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June 6, 2010 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Hey, Baby! is a terrible game. You should read about it anyway. [via]
posted by empath (326 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
haven't played it myself. I know only what I've read, which is that it serves a certain cathartic purpose for people who could use the catharsis. so, awesome. that's a function games fulfill admirably.
posted by shmegegge at 11:18 AM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


But won't someone think of the shy young men!

Just kidding. Thanks for the interesting read.
posted by redsparkler at 11:21 AM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It doesn't look that much different from a "kill your boss" or "kill Bush" kind of game. I don't understand why people play games about killing each other generally... it makes me nauseous.
posted by shii at 11:21 AM on June 6, 2010


The comments on the blogs you've linked to are interesting. One says "You shoot him in the face. You are then arrested for murder. You go to prison. You die…"

I've seen that thought reflected in a few. Obviously I don't think the violence is great, either, but somehow I doubt the same people who'll harp on it in this game are equally concerned about Grand Theft Auto, etc.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:23 AM on June 6, 2010


I had my own little revenge fantasy when the dude in the "about" link trotted out Columbine as an argument for why video games shouldn't be revenge fantasies.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:24 AM on June 6, 2010


I don't love violent games in general, but as someone who gets catcalled (no joke) 3-5 times a day, every single day...

There's just something attractive about being in a catcall situation where, for once, I'm the one with the upper hand.
posted by harperpitt at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad there is a metafilter for conversations like these
posted by Blasdelb at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2010


I vote Leigh Alexander's (the SexyVideogameland link) as the best of the group. The world needs more of that kind of first-person "this is what it's like in my world," and fewer arguments over hypothetical people who say hypothetical things to other hypothetical people.

Sad though that it took what is apparently an internet-wide flamewar to inspire Alexander to talk about the casual misogyny she faces on a daily basis. The worst thing about something like catcalling is that it has the lasting effect of shaming its victims into silence.
posted by ErikaB at 11:27 AM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I got a teeny-tiny taste of what women experience in this respect a couple of months ago. I'm out walking the dog at 12:30 at night (well, when the terrier needs to go, the terrier needs to go). I should note that I have a ponytail and a Unix beard, which kind of makes this comprehensible.

Anyway, I've just turned the corner when the dog runs back to sniff something at just the same time some guy leans out the passenger window of a car pulling up to the curb and says, loudly, "Hey baby!" For a confused moment, I think he's talking to the dog, so I turn back to him with a smile even though my heart skipped a beat due to his talking really loud in the middle of the night when I was thinking about something else.

He takes one look at me and cries, "You're a guy!" To which I can only reply, "Yeah!" before the car rockets off.

Only then did I understand that this moron had seen my *ponytail* from behind, told his friend to pull over, and had yelled "Hey baby" in a really smarmy tone, thinking that this was a good way to pick up a date (which is probably why he had no date, of course).

I don't let my wife or daughter walk the dog here after dark any more. And I love the fact this game exists.
posted by Michael Roberts at 11:28 AM on June 6, 2010 [38 favorites]


I'd also like to say that the comments on some of those blogs have made me very thankful for Metafilter.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:30 AM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only then did I understand that this moron had seen my *ponytail* from behind, told his friend to pull over, and had yelled "Hey baby" in a really smarmy tone

To be honest, when that happens to me, I usually turn around grabbing my crotch with my hand outside my pants and say in my deepest tone, "Yeah, what honey? You busy?"
posted by hippybear at 11:33 AM on June 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I wonder if "catcalling" is protected speech, or should be, and if not, what about nonverbal expression of desire, and if not, what about nonverbal expression of desire that arises naturally and is followed by an effort to restrain it, but is nonetheless still observable? Do attractive men enjoy greater freedom of expression?
posted by nervousfritz at 11:33 AM on June 6, 2010


On the topic of the game...

I really can't find it in me to get all worked up about how evil this revenge fantasy video game is. The only thing evil is the crappy game play. There are enough of the "reverse" sort of games, where men can fulfill their fantasy of cruising around and picking up women/prostitutes (sadly, often interchangable) to their heart's desire, with hardly the effort of a "hey baby".


As a mild derail...

From the "read link"
...someone’s suggested that maybe you’d like to suck my dick and you’re a fucking bitch if you don’t.

I recently completed a RAD (rape aggession defense) class and at the end, you do a simulation where you have physically fight off attackers in a semi-realistic simulation. Part of the simulation involves your "attackers" yelling things at you. One thing that really stuck out at me was the fact that they yelled out things that most woman would take to be threatening, but many men would find completely non-threatening and think the women were overreacting. Some paraphrased examples:

"Hey Goldilocks, you look good in red"

"Come over here, I just want to talk"

"Why won't you smile for me?"

"All I need is a dollar!"

Somehow, it would actually be easier to rally support (if scarier and more scarring) if they just said what they meant.
posted by fermezporte at 11:33 AM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


He takes one look at me and cries, "You're a guy!" To which I can only reply, "Yeah!" before the car rockets off.

The male libido has ceased to surprise me.
posted by anifinder at 11:34 AM on June 6, 2010


My husband, about twenty minutes into a very frustrating conversation with some friends of his who Did Not Get It, finally said "Look, the equivalent experience isn't having a bunch of women say these things to you. The equivalent experience is having a bunch of GUYS say these things to you. Like, say that in order to get to your bus stop, you had to walk past a prison yard, and deal with all those guys saying those things to you. Would you still feel like it was just a compliment? If a guy in a bright-orange jumpsuit with a White Power tattoo got in your way and said 'Smile for me, baby,' would you think it was sweet?"

The tenor of the conversation changed somewhat after that.
posted by KathrynT at 11:36 AM on June 6, 2010 [200 favorites]


I've been with a girl who was catcalled as we were leaving a club. We were both hammered.

She actually kicked him in the groin and swung her purse at him. I was pretty sure we were both gonna get stabbed. I had to drag her away. I don't even remember what the guy said.. It couldn't have been much more than 'hey baby, you look nice'.
posted by empath at 11:40 AM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


really nervousfritz? Sorry for the frustration, and you are probably trying to ask a genuine question, but yours is just one of the responses that always seems to pop up in these threads. Personally, I don't care if the guy cat calling me is attractive. I check him out, sure, but what I'm looking for is his strength/potential weapons relative to my ability to escape the situation.

If a man cannot physically restrain himself from catcalling, he needs psychological or neurological help.
posted by fermezporte at 11:41 AM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


redsparkler called it, with:

But won't someone think of the shy young men!

. . . followed shortly thereafter by nervousfritz, doing just that.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's good that this game exists, but would it be too much to ask that they at least try to have graphics from this side of the century when they're actually asking money for the game?
posted by ymgve at 11:44 AM on June 6, 2010


This is for the 'shy' guys who like to strike up conversations with strangers (from the 'read' link)

The fact that you've decided to focus on a total stranger you only ever encounter in totally inappropriate and unromantic circumstances means that the universe does not want you to meet women. The universe has cursed you with terrible technophobia, so you cannot use the Internet to form social bonds or visit the dating sites where the more probably available hang out. He has struck you down with terrible claustrophobia, so that you cannot go to bars or clubs or night school or any number of other places where it is considered appropriate to strike up a conversation with somebody not obviously there with their partner, with relatively limited risk. He has ensured that not a single one of your friends has any single female friends, or friends with single female friends, or has ever met or come to know a woman, ever, making them useless as a source of advice or potential girlfriends. And, despite all that, the universe has cursed you with standards so high, albeit perverse, that only a tiny group of women are of interest - probably women with no interest in you, and indeed women who may find your attempt to strike up a conversation not just unwelcome but actively upsetting.


The universe wants you to be single.


There's this pervasive myth that girls only want to date jerks and that 'nice, shy' guys get shafted. But shy, 'nice' guys are creepy.
posted by empath at 11:48 AM on June 6, 2010 [65 favorites]


The male libido has ceased to surprise me.

The behavior in question has almost nothing to do with libido. It has everything to do with dicks ego.
posted by kipmanley at 11:48 AM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


yours is just one of the responses that always seems to pop up in these threads

I certainly didn't intend to echo a stock response that I had read elsewhere, or to troll.

followed shortly thereafter by nervousfritz, doing just that

Sorry, I see what you mean.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:51 AM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


The reason this type of game ultimately fails is that it rests on the backs of an already violent hetero-normative masculine world where males victimize females. The violence and revenge that the female characters enact on the male victims simply mirrors the same type of violence that most people find so objectionable. A disturbing game.
posted by Fizz at 11:52 AM on June 6, 2010


Related, the Hollaback iPhone app lets you snap pics and video of your street harassers, and upload them to a centralized website.
posted by ErikaB at 11:57 AM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Fizz, I guess it depends what the point of the game was.
posted by empath at 11:58 AM on June 6, 2010


Do attractive men enjoy greater freedom of expression?

So true! The other day I was feeling like an object and afraid for my safety because some guys were catcalling after me -- hey baby where you going, etc. -- but then as they got closer and I begun to worry about rape, I saw that they were cute, and it was like "oh, that's cool then!"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:59 AM on June 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


It is frigging amazing to me all the game blogger guys who suddenly grew a conscience about the messages in violent video games.

I'm sorry, but that is intellectual wussiness of the highest order. You've spent most of your life engaging in virtual power fantasies and now, because you might possibly be in the victim category on this one, you freak?
posted by lumpenprole at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [61 favorites]


I like playing it because I like automatic weapons and suck at counter strike.

Kind of reminds me of a friend of mine. When Modern Warfare 2 came out there was the infamous "No Russian" level where you basically massacred a bunch of helpless civilians. My friend, who is a bartender, said that playing the level after a long night of dealing with drunks was cathartic.

But shy, 'nice' guys are creepy

Oh no, I remember reading that 'comic' on reddit and wishing I had copious amounts of alcohol, so I could forget the 'comic' and the ensuing 'thread'.
posted by hellojed at 12:02 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fizz, I guess it depends what the point of the game was.
From the website info section:Ladies, are you sick and tired of catcalling, hollering, obnoxious one-liners and creepy street encounters? Tired of changing your route home to avoid uncomfortable situations?
IT'S PAYBACK TIME, BOYS.....

I think it's pretty obvious what the point of the game is. To enact violence against another gender. If this game was meant to be some kind of feminist statement, it fails because it is modeled after the same type of violent masculine patriarchy that society operates under.
If this game is just for entertainment... well I for one can do without this type of entertainment.
posted by Fizz at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2010


> KathrynT, that is exactly it. I've been catcalled by women before, and found it thoroughly charming (once in Germany, an older lady whistled appreciatively at my legs when I was wearing shorts, for example). But being catcalled by a guy in the middle of the night was not at all charming, and was saved from being a really unsettling experience only by the fact that I only realized he wasn't talking to my dog after the entire story was over. (I thought that because the dog is a Jack Russell mix and it's not at all unusual for people to coo loudly over her in public - I did think it was weird to do so the middle of the night, but there are weird people in my neighborhood.)

And yes to > kipmanley as well - it's not sex, it's power. Or rather, it's sex as a symbol of power.
posted by Michael Roberts at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


How anyone could find that "cathartic" is beyond me. There's not even an RPG.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's pretty obvious what the point of the game is. To enact violence against another gender.

*sigh*
posted by empath at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Previously: Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
posted by eatdonuts at 12:16 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh no, I remember reading that 'comic' on reddit and wishing I had copious amounts of alcohol, so I could forget the 'comic' and the ensuing 'thread'.

Yeah, it's not a great illustration of the principle. The linked strip makes it sound as if women deliberately choose to go out with assholes, when the point should be that women choose to go out with men who have the confidence to approach them, and assholes are a group of people who do not lack confidence.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think it's pretty obvious what the point of the game is. To enact violence against another gender.

And that's kind of the fundamental difference. Comparing this to a GTA or somesuch is pointless, because the point of GTA is not sanctioning violence against a specific subset of people. It's not even "violence in general". GTA is a more complicated, story-driven game, where shooting or hitting people is simply one of the various mechanics of that game. There's more to it, and it can't really be said to be about exactly one thing. This game? Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men. It's the point, the message, and the entirety of the experience.
posted by kafziel at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2010


empath,

I'm not for or against this game either way. I find games like GTA to be offensive and this game is also just as disturbing.

Does the producer of this game have ever right to create such a thing? Of course, especially when you consider the thousands upon thousands of games that already exist in the same genre. But it's disturbing regardless of what sex you are, male or female.
posted by Fizz at 12:22 PM on June 6, 2010


Comparing this to a GTA or somesuch is pointless, because the point of GTA is not sanctioning violence against a specific subset of people. It's not even "violence in general". GTA is a more complicated, story-driven game, where shooting or hitting people is simply one of the various mechanics of that game. There's more to it, and it can't really be said to be about exactly one thing.

kafziel, so what you're saying is that when people produce games about violence, they should target more than just one individual. GTA is a game where you can shoot prostitutes, civilians, police officers, and drug peddlers.

This game suffers from simplicity, is that it?
posted by Fizz at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men

. . . within the context of a reality in which women are harassed, catcalled, and dehumanized specifically because they're women.

It's not a woman taking a gun to the mall and just shooting the hell out of random guys, after all. Do I love the game? I do not. Do I think it contributes substantially to the necessary conversation about sexual autonomy and violence? Absolutely not. Do I see the appeal? Hell yes I do.
posted by KathrynT at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men. It's the point, the message, and the entirety of the experience.

No, it's about shooting men because they are behaving in a threatening manner to women. Male characters in this game who keep their mouths shut and live their lives with a bare minimum of respect for their fellow human beings are perfectly safe.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:25 PM on June 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men.

That is a factually incorrect statement. Your assignment is, in one paragraph or less, to explain why.
posted by empath at 12:25 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men.

Do you think so? It seems like it's about shooting men who catcall women. I don't think this is admirable, but women are treated much worse in many more video games.

Also, real women are treated much worse than these virtual men in real life.

So I take a slightly dim view of anyone who is only now concerned about gender and violence in video games. I guess it's good this conversation will open some eyes about the issue.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:27 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Is about exactly one thing, and that is specifically about shooting men specifically because they're men.

Yes, and WW2 games are about shooting Germans, just because they're Germans. The time to get prissy bout violent power fantasies in video games was about two decades ago. So you missed that boat, but hey I hear Jack Thompson is always looking for interns.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:30 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found the game dark.

Literally dark. Like, I couldn't see anything but vague outlines while I was playing the Flash (?) version online.
posted by Shepherd at 12:31 PM on June 6, 2010


If your first response to this game is: "How terrible it is that women might enjoy pretending to violent lash out against sexual harassment" and not "How terrible it must be that women have to deal with this regularly without having any real-world recourse", There Is Something Wrong With You.
posted by empath at 12:33 PM on June 6, 2010 [43 favorites]


If this game was meant to be some kind of feminist statement, it fails because it is modeled after the same type of violent masculine patriarchy that society operates under.

I'm not finding any info out there about LadyKillas Inc. (the game producer/maker), but I feel pretty safe in saying that their goal is not the defeat of patriarchy, but the WIN of their bank accounts.
posted by rtha at 12:34 PM on June 6, 2010


I don't let my wife or daughter walk the dog here after dark any more.

Uh. Presumably your wife is an adult.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


INFO

Ever had one of those seemingly endless days?
All you want to do is to get home... You're the last one out of the office. Its getting dark outside...


You log onto metafilter.com and realize the trolls are out.
There's no one around. You read an inane post just behind yours. The page reloads.

You post and he says, "tl;dr"


And then you remember, you’re mathowie packing mod powers that are locked and loaded.


Mefites, are you sick and tired of catcalling, hollering, obnoxious one-liners and creepy posts? Tired of reloading the page or clicking older posts to avoid uncomfortable situations?

IT'S PAYBACK TIME, MEFITES.....
posted by Fizz at 12:38 PM on June 6, 2010


Fizz, before you continue making an ass of yourself, I assume you know some women in real life? Ask them about catcalling. And actually listen to them.

Or hey, there are actual women in this actual thread. Maybe you could take this as on opportunity to learn something.

You are a guy who is presumably not catcalled, and hopefully doesn't catcall. You don't really have much to contribute to the subject, so why are you posting so much?
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aside from my humorous cut and paste from the website. I'm pretty sure my comments are in keeping with the context of this discussion. I've talked about how this game fails as a feminist gesture and how I find this game to be disturbing because of the violence that it pushes towards a market already flooded with these types of games.

I've stated my points clearly and without any personal attacks. Thank you.
posted by Fizz at 12:50 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's this pervasive myth that girls only want to date jerks and that 'nice, shy' guys get shafted. But shy, 'nice' guys are creepy.

Slightly off the subject, but I have to say, that comic is really awful- not because it attacks "Nice Guy" types, but because it seems to me to be an active reaffirmation of the misogynistic mythos that "Nice Guys" are driven by, not a refutation of it. It claims, among other things, that "girls want to be with arseholes because they are savage and uncivilized"- which is both a horrendously sexist idea and also something that most "Nice Guys" believe to be true and blame for their own lack of success, from what I've seen- and that the problem with "Nice Guys" is that they're "rejecting (or lacking) their male instincts," an idea as rooted in sexist belief as anything I can think of.

If one of the "Nice Guy" types I assume this is aimed at really took it to heart, I'd guess his reaction would probably be to find some PUA guru to teach him to be more of an aggressive douchebag, as opposed to the passive one he'd been- after all, according to this comic, the problem isn't that he's really a misogynistic asshole (which, when it comes to "Nice Guy" types, is in fact the fundamental problem, as I see it), it's that he's the wrong kind of asshole. This does not strike me as being an improvement. The "all women really want assholes" thing is a deeply pernicious, ugly, misogynistic idea, and that comic doesn't attack it, it actively reiterates it.
posted by a louis wain cat at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2010 [74 favorites]


this game fails as a feminist gesture

I'm looking and failing to find any evidence that this game has been offered by or for feminists. It's an FPS made by a company that wants to make money. You are accusing it of failing at something it doesn't have as a goal. That's kind of weird.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I watched a decent student documentary about cat-calling and holla-ing. At the end, it included a sort of revenge fantasy of a skinny white dude walking down the street getting molested. I totally get the reason why people feel that way, and I'm fine with it, actually, I support it.

I was just working with a young shithead who would try to strike up conversations with women walking in the street while we were waiting for load-in. Recently, unfortunately, I've stopped confronting men about catcalling (and it's related frat-brother, the horn honk), asking them "has that ever worked? You know women don't like that." because it usually results in anger and defensiveness and often in an increased drive to prove me wrong. Honestly, I will probably not be working with a particular driver anymore because he street harrasses women while I am in the vehicular with him (I would have gotten out and walked but my equipment was in the vehicular.)

Cat-calling upsets me because it happens to my friends (they don't like it) and to a long-haired prepubescent me (I didn't like it either). Men don't understand it's not flattering because often the men who do this are completely dysfunctional and don't think of women as rational actors. They may have a tiny, insignificant amount of respect for their mothers but mostly I think it is because they were raised by a savage, backwards culture. Their up-bringing and education was completely deficient and so they are sub-standard human beings who threaten over half the planet's population.

This game and the documentary I saw has reminded me that I need to be more vigilant about calling people out about their terrible behavior. I would discourage someone from shitting in their hand and rubbing their shit in a newborn baby's face and so I should discourage men from holla-ing.

Curiously enough, I was walking past the projects the other day and a young lady holla-ed at me, telling me I was her boyfriend now, locking elbows with me, asking "when we gonna smoke?" and so on. She wasn't being sarcastic, and was quite persistant. It was a strange experience for me, and it made me wonder about transmission of trends through cultures. The young lady could have been inspired by the pervasiveness of holla-ing in hip-hop culture, and perhaps she even sees it as a valid protocol for public communication. In some segments of the population, this sort of harassment is taken as a matter of fact and begins with girls even before middle-school. I've witnessed over-developed 13 year olds gettng unwanted attention from men who could have been their fathers, or grandfathers.

And then there is my "friend" L. She grew up gorgeous and sheltered and a believer of such nonsense as "the secret" and "manifestation." Her whole life, she has been flattered and spoiled and on the receiving end of trinkets, etc. She dresses scandalously and revels in attention, nay, needs attention constantly, and so will reward cat-calls with attention and sometimes, butt-flashes. I thought about her as I watched the documentary where one woman lamented cat-calling and said that in a word without men making her feel uncomfortable, she would dress much sexier. She said she wanted men to think she was sexy, but the cat-calling totally defused any pleasure she derived from showing off the parts of her body she was proud of. She said something along the lines of "men, if you would just stop yelling at me, I would be comfortable rocking short skirts everyday so y'all can check out my awesome gams! (yeah, she did say "gams"), but as it stands now boys, it's always sweatpants day."

Unfortunately, I can't think of any solution to this but women reacting with disproportionate violence against men who holla at them. This game is a great starting point. Most men are not going to appreciate this game because they don't appreciate women and lack the intellectual capacity for an empathetic understanding of the realities of pervasive and largely-condoned harassment.
posted by fuq at 12:55 PM on June 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


I apologize if my commentary has been off-topic in this regard. Even if this game is meant for entertainment purposes, it is still disturbing to me.
posted by Fizz at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2010


If this game was meant to be some kind of feminist statement, it fails because it is modeled after the same type of violent masculine patriarchy that society operates under.

The social coding of violence as masculine is part of the patriarchy, kthx.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:57 PM on June 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


I love catcallers and random annoying dudes on the street. After a shit day at work, I can respond as scathingly or aggressively as I like, and not feel bad. Great way to get out some vitriol.

Admittedly this is only in the context of a crowded city center where I feel 100% safe.
posted by jetsetlag at 12:57 PM on June 6, 2010


If one of the "Nice Guy" types I assume this is aimed at really took it to heart, I'd guess his reaction would probably be to find some PUA guru to teach him to be more of an aggressive douchebag, as opposed to the passive one he'd been

yeah, i kind of regret linking it, i derailed my own thread. I read it as encouraging guys to stop obsessing start focusing on being a successful, interesting person.
posted by empath at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


The social coding of violence as masculine is part of the patriarchy, kthx.

Indeed it is Pope Guilty. I know that I operate under the same system I abhor and I have been cultured into a society where this type of violence is acceptable and often expected.

Stepping outside of entertainment and profit as the primary goals for this game, does this game provide empowerment for women? In what way does playing a role that men predominantly occupy in a situation that most people find disturbing provide empowerment?
posted by Fizz at 1:03 PM on June 6, 2010


Maybe like most men we should shut up and listen to what the women are saying. Or would that be counter-feminist to your mind?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:04 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have no problem listening to men or women. I just find violence like this disturbing. I think I'm done with this thread. Violence and video-games, a debate that will never end. The same goes for the way men and women treat each other. Cheers.
posted by Fizz at 1:07 PM on June 6, 2010


Between that linked comic and comments like Most men are not going to appreciate this game because they don't appreciate women and lack the intellectual capacity for an empathetic understanding, it's not the video game that is coming across as hostile.

People are not very good at seeing power structures which they benefit from. Or rather, we are not very good at seeing how others might not share the same advantages. "Let them eat cake" might be apocryphal, but it's a good extreme example.
posted by Nothing at 1:09 PM on June 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile, the creators of this "game" look on these kinds of discussions with a bemused "why won't they pay for the full download?" expression.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on June 6, 2010


does this game provide empowerment for women?

I haven't played the game, but the idea of playing such a game after having to walk the gauntlet to buy some damn groceries is quite appealing and empowering, yes.
posted by KathrynT at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never notice if catcallers are attractive. Their behavior is repelling to me, so any part of me that might have been attracted gets shut down.

I played the demo of the game that's on the website. The more you shoot at the catcallers, the more of them come after you until you're surrounded by hordes of catcallers. So that is the "reward" for being violent.
posted by Danila at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


To All The People Who Just Don't Get It:

The one time I told a catcaller that I was not interested, he became enraged. I thought he was going to kill me. He shouted horrible things at me and got in my face. A male observer had to intervene and get the man to leave. If he had not been there, I do not know what would have happened to me. When visual and verbal signals of power do not work, many men will resort to physical oppression and violence.

What recourse do women have? I want to feel free to walk down the streets and not be intimidated or feel guilty about my body. Although I would never shoot a human, I do not find this game disturbing in the slightest. Is that wrong? If you think it is, perhaps you could imagine the following scenario.


You are confronted by a 7 foot tall muscular male who tells you that you look good and asks for your number. You ignore him, and he starts following you down the street. You ask him to stop following you. He becomes angry. You can tell that he is determined to make you pay for rejecting his advances. He starts getting close to you and calling you awful things. You wished you hadn't said anything. You're not sure what he's going to do, but it seems like it might end up really badly.

Now, imagine that might happen to you at any time when you walk down the street. Imagine that it happens no matter what you are wearing or what you look like. Imagine that same type of person harassing you multiple times a day. You've talked to your girlfriend about it, but she doesn't get it. It never happens when she is around. What then? It's been happening since puberty, so you'd probably get used to it. It's not going to change, and you really should be flattered. You might as well like it, since it's not going to stop. Right?
posted by 200burritos at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2010 [36 favorites]


I should clarify, my "hostile" comment was directed at the two comments I pointed out. I thought that they were off-topic and served to create a sense of hostility that did not exist in the game itself or in the discussion of it thus far.
posted by Nothing at 1:26 PM on June 6, 2010


I still haven't figured out the correct response to street harassment. Obviously, it isn't shooting them. But I have tried a lot of other things and none of it has worked. I have tried ignoring them and the last time I ended up literally chased by three angry guys because I was "too stuck up" to talk to them. I have tried being polite at first and responding to the greeting, but that is really just an invitation to them. I have tried talking about my religion as A. a deterrent and B. the reason I could never date random guy, but it's as if I wasn't speaking at all because they keep to their script. I have tried saying I already have a boyfriend, which is A. lying and B. BIG MISTAKE. The last time I did that the guy followed me in his car for blocks. And I have also tried being really blunt and this ends up starting arguments.

It's just stressful and sometimes scary and I have absolutely no idea what I'm supposed to do.
posted by Danila at 1:30 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I applaud the effort, but yeah, lots of choir-preaching going on.

The guys who catcall girls as they're walking down the street don't read blogs or play feminist video games.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:31 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there going to be a MetaFilter edition where the dudes are wearing fedoras?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:34 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always been disturbed by violent video games. Yes, even 20 years ago. Wolfenstein 3D was just more than I could stomach.

But I have to admit there's a part of me that thinks this game totally rocks. Even if it isn't meant as a feminist gesture, it certainly is opening up a conversation about possibly the most common type of sexual harassment in the world.

I, for one, get really tired of having to put on my psychological armor every time I walk out the door. There are places in the world where I didn't feel that need, but precious few. So yeah, I can see why this game would appeal.
posted by bardophile at 1:35 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really hate it when discussions such as these use the "straight men being unwillingly hit on by other men" example, because I feel like it plays to the homophobic stereotype of the "predatory gay male". In my search for an easily understood and widely applicable alternative, I have found that this comment by decathecting fits the bill perfectly.
posted by elizardbits at 1:41 PM on June 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


I dislike this game because I think most men who catcall or act creepy are genuinely clueless. Yes, there are some wolves in the pack but most creepy guys are misguided and don't understand women's experiences.

Does this make their behavior acceptable? No.
Does this mean that women are somehow overreacting by protecting themselves? No.

Danila: "But I have tried a lot of other things and none of it has worked. I have tried ignoring them and the last time I ended up literally chased by three angry guys because I was "too stuck up" to talk to them. I have tried being polite at first and responding to the greeting, but that is really just an invitation to them. I have tried talking about my religion as A. a deterrent and B. the reason I could never date random guy, but it's as if I wasn't speaking at all because they keep to their script. I have tried saying I already have a boyfriend, which is A. lying and B. BIG MISTAKE."

None of this works because harassment and rape are not about the victim. I'm sure other folks will have better advice on how to deter creeps (not the least of which is carrying spray or something with which to defend yourself). Sorry, reading things like this breaks my heart. Nobody should have to go through this.
posted by anonymuk at 1:44 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er. I am not trying to call out anyone in this thread for using the aforementioned men hitting on men example - I've used it myself a thousand times over the years because, despite my intense distaste at the thought of appealing to someone's latent or blatant homophobia, I've always had a hard time finding a parallel example that would have the desired visceral effect.
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on June 6, 2010


"This is for the 'shy' guys who like to strike up conversations with strangers (from the 'read' link)"

Not much to add here, except that was the link where I had to stop reading because it really made me angry. It's a cliché around here to say things like "I fear for the future of the human race," but blogs like that make me wonder how we ever survived this long.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guys who catcall girls as they're walking down the street don't read blogs or play feminist video games.

But maybe the guys they hang out with, who don't catcall but also don't comment, will feel moved to start mentioning that it's not cool if they do that, will walk away when they hear it, will realise that it is also their problem when they let it go on in front of them.
posted by jeather at 1:54 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking as (approximately) a gay male, I think the benefit of giving clueless men some idea of what catcalling must feel like from a women's point of view is greater than the harm of invoking the "predatory gay" stereotype. Of course, if you can pull off the "Decathecting's dollar" analogy, good on you.
posted by darksasami at 1:55 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am now wondering what a fully realized 'sandbox game' on the scale of GTA IV would look like if it were programmed by and for women.
posted by empath at 1:56 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know, it really is too bad that men who are genuinely sexist never wind up having conversations about feminism. The only people who ever talk about it are people who essentially agree with each other, although they may differ on the smaller points.

Case-in-pont -- I, nerdy whiteguy, have really never known anybody who would catcall women as they walk down the street. The catcallers come from a completely different socioeconomic background then I, and almost never find their way into my social circles. I literally have no idea what makes men catcall women. And any conversation that attempts to address this question always devolves into the same inside-baseball gender studies jargonspeak.

I think it would be a lot more interesting to perform some kind of survey of actual catcallers, and ask them why exactly they do it. Do they think it will lead to a date? Do they do it to impress their friends? Do they think the woman will take it as a genuine compliment? To me, this would be a hell of a lot more interesting than the 1000th iteration of the male privilege debate.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:57 PM on June 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


I have no problem with violence in video games--my favorite game is Team Fortress 2, where you can set fire to people and explode them into giblets with rocket launchers.

But, I do find this game a bit disturbing because it is violence as revenge fantasy. I'd be as disturbed to be playing a game where I shot bullies in a high school. Context and motivation matter in video games; look at all the uproar over the airport scene in Modern Warfare 2.

There's a difference between shooting waves of zombies/Nazis/aliens who are abstractly threatening/evil and shooting someone because they personally angered you. Hey Baby is less about the fun of shooting--skill, competition, strategy, and kinesthesia--and more about feeding that dark impulse of revenge.

On the other hand, it is a great conversation starter about this problem that many women face. Leigh Alexander's response, I think, will do the most good in the end, since she speaks about her own personal experiences. Hopefully, this controversy will get a few young men to think about what they're doing and change their behavior.
posted by JDHarper at 1:59 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco -- I've never known anyone who would catcall women, either. But I have known people who believed that catcalling was not a big deal, and that women had a social duty to respond to it politely. Maybe I can't really engage the first group, but I *can* engage the second.
posted by KathrynT at 2:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


darksasami: "Speaking as (approximately) a gay male, I think the benefit of giving clueless men some idea of what catcalling must feel like from a women's point of view is greater than the harm of invoking the "predatory gay" stereotype. Of course, if you can pull off the "Decathecting's dollar" analogy, good on you."

It's a fool's quest to rank oppression. I subscribe to the idea of intersectionality— the idea that in order to free one group of people, we must free all groups of people.

Afroblanco: "I literally have no idea what makes men catcall women. And any conversation that attempts to address this question always devolves into the same inside-baseball gender studies jargonspeak."

I agree wholeheartedly.
posted by anonymuk at 2:08 PM on June 6, 2010


I can't say I'm one to fret at violence in video games, even as revenge fantasy. Maybe because I spend so much of my time in fantasy as it is, I don't know. I looked at the game and my questions swung more to graphics, controls, memory requirements and whether or not my graphics card would be able to handle it. But then, when you're launching nuclear devices from shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and killing slave traders who've taken over the Lincoln Memorial, I suppose you become a little forgiving of every-day revenge fantasies that come from a very understandable place.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:11 PM on June 6, 2010


There's a difference between shooting waves of zombies/Nazis/aliens who are abstractly threatening/evil and shooting someone because they personally angered you. Hey Baby is less about the fun of shooting--skill, competition, strategy, and kinesthesia--and more about feeding that dark impulse of revenge.

Ha! Fucking Nazis! It's true, they basically are zombies/aliens these days. Actually, we're getting to the point where the implications of killing other sentient species are finally being examined. Nazis though? They're our generations prefab cartoon villains. When you need to kill a whole bunch of human beings but you need to keep a PG-13 rating, just slap a swastika or ten thousand on your bad guys and run wild!

We've killed them so elaborately and so often that they're truly not even human anymore. So long as the human being killed on the screen is wearing a swastika there is no torture to depraved, no killing too brutal, to make people wince. It's all just raucous fun 'cause, hey, they're Nazis, they count as much as zombies in the grand scheme of things.

Killing Nazis is revenge fantasy. They are people that do such bad things that we don't feel bad about killing them with bats. They're being punished for being fucking Nazis. Ironically, nobody playing a game with Nazis in it has probably never (and probably never will) be truly threatened by an honest-to-god Nazi. I just don't see why pretend killing that particular kind of bad guy for entertainment is harmless fun but pretend killing actual bad guys who pose real threats that people do actually face on a daily basis says something about our dark nature and our need to rise above it.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:11 PM on June 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I've read several of these epic sexism threads (here's one) and I gotta say, I like the idea that some folks are reached by them but it sure seems like a heartbreakingly long way to go for the benefit.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:13 PM on June 6, 2010


@elizardbits:

While the example of male-on-male intimidation could possibly suggest homophobia, there is no better way to explain the feeling of being terrified of a much bigger person's power over your body. The example you link makes me think of it as an annoyance rather than a physical threat. Panhandlers are obnoxious and a little sad--kind of like the weird guy in class who always talks about how hot it would be to see two female celebrities make out. It is frustrating and exhausting to continually ignore "that dude", but not necessarily scary. To really get the point across, you need to use an adequate and appropriate example. Wanting a dollar is not personal. Your money is not you. Many catcallers are taking something else. They strip dignity from women and refuse to allow them to fight back. Any example you choose must involve sexuality--just inhabitating my female body is enough to be considered an open invitation for molestation.
posted by 200burritos at 2:17 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah, like I said, it's difficult to find a parallel example with the same visceral impact. While I bet mugging victims are pretty freaked out by aggressive panhandlers, I agree that it is likely not really the same feeling of deeply personal violation.
posted by elizardbits at 2:23 PM on June 6, 2010


There's a difference between shooting waves of zombies/Nazis/aliens who are abstractly threatening/evil and shooting someone because they personally angered you.

I am not a video game player, but things rings true for me. Personally, I think I would be much more disturbed by playing a game in which I had to shoot other people - even evil people - than by one in which I shoot aliens or giant bugs or zombies. But that's a personal thing that certainly doesn't apply to everyone.

I can understand the attraction of a game like this, even as I'm disturbed by the effects it may have on players, and by their possible motivations.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on June 6, 2010


A video game that says "I'm so angry at certain behavior I'm willing to pretend to kill over it!" is not actually making a valid argument against that behavior.

And empath, accepting the argument from that trollish comic you found on Reddit is to accept that women are naturally submissive and that men should aggressively pursue them. In certain lowbrow cultures, catcalling fits those parameters.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My husband, about twenty minutes into a very frustrating conversation with some friends of his who Did Not Get It, finally said "Look, the equivalent experience isn't having a bunch of women say these things to you. The equivalent experience is having a bunch of GUYS say these things to you. Like, say that in order to get to your bus stop, you had to walk past a prison yard, and deal with all those guys saying those things to you. Would you still feel like it was just a compliment? If a guy in a bright-orange jumpsuit with a White Power tattoo got in your way and said 'Smile for me, baby,' would you think it was sweet?"

Ah, yes. Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.

Clearly.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:45 PM on June 6, 2010


I applaud the effort, but yeah, lots of choir-preaching going on.

Actually I spotted several men in the SVGL post talking about how they hadn't realised their behaviour towards women in the street could be construed as threatening -- or potentially threatening -- and resolving to modify their ways.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.

I'm pretty sure that prison rape isn't particularly related to sexual orientation, and that a gay person would be as afraid of it as a straight person is.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I, nerdy whiteguy, have really never known anybody who would catcall women as they walk down the street. The catcallers come from a completely different socioeconomic background then I, and almost never find their way into my social circles.

I've seen plenty of middle-class white guys catcalling women. I saw some do so out of the window of their car last night, in fact. I couldn't tell if they were nerdy from glancing at them while they did their drive-by yelling, though I'd bet $10 easy that they play video games and use the internet, and chances are very, very good that at least one of the four dudes in the car has nerdish hobbies. So no, cat-calling is not the sole province of construction workers and street guys and poor neighborhoods.

Having just said that, though, I agree with you that it is a social phenomenon that relies on group culture. I see it all the time, but no one I spend any time with in the last few years has ever even hinted at doing it while I've watched them. No honking, no whistling, no yelling. Whereas the guys in the car last night probably do this every Saturday night after a few beers -- but none of them find it worth having a conversation about.

So if a stupid video game can be a vehicle for a few people to have a conversation they've never had before, I'm all for it. Whether or not it will work, I don't know, but I'm willing to accept the social loss of one more violent and dumb game for that possibility.
posted by Forktine at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2010


Sys Rq, yeah, I read it that way at first, too, but then I understood it as a power-differential thing, a way of saying, think about how it would feel if people who appear to be stronger and scarier than you did this too you.
posted by rtha at 2:52 PM on June 6, 2010


Bystander Sexism in the Intergroup Context: The Impact of Cat-calls on Women’s Reactions Towards Men
Chaudoir SR & Quinn DM (2010)

Despite the fact that sexism is an inherently intergroup phenomenon, women’s group-level responses to sexism have received relatively little empirical attention. We examine the intergroup reactions experienced by 114 female students at a U.S. university in New England who imagined being a bystander to a sexist cat-call remark or control greeting. Results indicate that women experienced greater negative intergroup emotions and motivations towards the outgroup of men after overhearing the cat-call remark. Further, the experience of group-based anger mediated the relationship between the effect of study condition on the motivation to move against, or oppose, men. Results indicate that bystanders can be affected by sexism and highlights how the collective groups of men and women can be implicated in individual instances of sexism.

Or on a less academic note: Why do men catcall?
posted by knapah at 2:53 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I assume you know some women in real life? Ask them about catcalling. And actually listen to them.

I was talking to my 64 year old mother the other day she said she missed cat calling.

I was shocked. I suppose I'll never understand. (Maybe there was a difference between cat calling then and now?)
posted by CarlRossi at 2:53 PM on June 6, 2010


Ah, yes. Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.

Yeah, rape shouldn't be so heteronormative.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 2:54 PM on June 6, 2010


I have no real problem with this game existing. It's not very good, and it seems to have no real plot, but the subject matter isn't any more offensive than GTA. I actually internet-smiled.* I don't care what that means about me.

Also, in relation to someone's link further upthread it's some consolation that, when a cop tries to stop me filming him, he's not a very good shot.

*When you smile in your mind at something you read on the internet, but the smile never manifests on your face. Similar to lol, haha, and the less fancied rofl.
posted by doublehappy at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2010


The "all women really want assholes" thing ...

I REALLY need to get myself a copy of Grey's Anatomy, stat!

*backs slowly out of the thread*
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:59 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes. Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.

Well, the problem here is that rape is something that is only done by men. (Yes, exceptions exist; no, they are not statistically significant.) That's why men, as a class, aren't frightened of sexual violence from women; they have no reason to be. If you want to illustrate to men what it feels like to be the target of sexual violence, you have to presume that those doing the targeting are men if you want the comparison to be in any way meaningful.

Now, gay men are no more likely to be sexually violent than straight men. (I have no numbers, but my gut instinct says that they're probably less likely, for a variety of social and cultural reasons.) But even if they were equally likely, the fact that gay men are such a small percentage of the overall people one would encounter makes them a poor group to use to illustrate the ubiquity of potential sexual violence. There simply is no environment that is crawling with Predatory Gayz looking to overwhelm Poor Innocent Straight Menz.

That's why I didn't use gay men in my example. I used a prison yard. Prison is the only environment I'm aware of where men are routinely the targets of rape and sexual violence. Prison rapists aren't gay in any meaningful way; they don't self identify as such, they typically don't have sexual contact with men outside of prison. Men who are afraid of sexual violence in prison aren't afraid of being the targets of *gay* men, they're afraid of being the targets of *bigger, stronger* men. I think it's a huge mistake to conflate prison rape with gay sex.
posted by KathrynT at 3:06 PM on June 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


Someone you don't know is
some you don't know.
Get a firm grip, girl, before you let go.

For every hand extended, another lies in wait--
keep your eye on that one.

Anticipate.

--Ani Difranco
posted by apis mellifera at 3:12 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


0xdeadc0de: A video game that says "I'm so angry at certain behavior I'm willing to pretend to kill over it!" is not actually making a valid argument against that behavior.

Why does it have to? Plenty of other people have done that already. The game itself seems to be intended as a way to blow off steam and stimulate conversation, not to be the next The Feminine Mystique.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks
posted by tehloki at 3:28 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't worry though, I've been unable to approach women in person for some time now
posted by tehloki at 3:29 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes. Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.

By your logic, women who don't like cat-calling are frigid misandrists. No. Having a say over when and with whom you have sex does not make you anti-sex, or phobic of men who want you.

Also, what KathrynT said; it's about physical size and strength, and consent.
posted by msalt at 3:30 PM on June 6, 2010


This a thread about blowing away cat-callers in a video game tehloki.

Do you cat-call women?

If yes: You are justified in feeling badly about yourself.

If no: You are justified in in feeling badly about yourself and blaming it on women who hate being cat-called.

Wait, what?
posted by stagewhisper at 3:34 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh Lord, tehloki, don't give us the passive aggression. It isn't about you. Simply endeavor not to be a dick, and it never will be.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:35 PM on June 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think it's a huge mistake to conflate prison rape with gay sex.

Yes, and I'm sure the dickhead to whom you've presented your lovely analogy will be sure to make that distinction.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:37 PM on June 6, 2010


Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks.
Meh. Do you go around performing the problematic behavior being described? If so, knock if off. If not, it's not about you.
posted by Karmakaze at 3:39 PM on June 6, 2010


Nazis though? They're our generations prefab cartoon villains. When you need to kill a whole bunch of human beings but you need to keep a PG-13 rating, just slap a swastika or ten thousand on your bad guys and run wild!

This is why I liked Inglorious Basterds so much. It's basically an elaborate revenge fantasy movie about killing Nazis built around a Nazi revenge fantasy movie about killing Americans. We really want to kill those guys who keep laughing at images of Americans being killed-- and when they get shot, we get to laugh.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:39 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, and I'm sure the dickhead to whom you've presented your lovely analogy will be sure to make that distinction.

Is "huge dude in an orange jumpsuit with a White Power tattoo" some sort of gay stereotype that I'm unfamiliar with? Because yeah, in my experience, most dudes are perfectly capable of making the distinction.
posted by KathrynT at 3:40 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is "huge dude in an orange jumpsuit with a White Power tattoo" some sort of gay stereotype that I'm unfamiliar with? Because yeah, in my experience, most dudes are perfectly capable of making the distinction.

Hate to break it to you, but homophobia, which is not exactly rare, is precisely the inability to make that distinction. And, while "most dudes" may indeed be good about that sort of thing, the subset of dudes that go around harassing women in the street may in actual fact be less enlightened than one would hope.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:46 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, so break it down for me. If men have no reason to be afraid of being the targets of sexual violence save homophobia, why are women afraid of being the targets of sexual violence?
posted by KathrynT at 3:47 PM on June 6, 2010


Why do all the men roar like wounded elephants when they are shot?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:48 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


AfroBlanco: I think it would be a lot more interesting to perform some kind of survey of actual catcallers, and ask them why exactly they do it.

Unfortunately, any answer they give will be incorrect, because they are living within a structure that doesn't allow them to see the true motivation behind their actions.

^ I was talking to my 64 year old mother the other day she said she missed cat calling.

I was shocked. I suppose I'll never understand. (Maybe there was a difference between cat calling then and now?)


I think it's more that women's understanding of the implications of cat calling is different than then.

CarlRossi: I, nerdy whiteguy, have really never known anybody who would catcall women as they walk down the street.

I'd like to believe you. The problem is that you can't know that for certain.
posted by tzikeh at 3:49 PM on June 6, 2010


I hear you tehloki, but don't pay attention to the heavily favorited comments calling us "creepy", or "misogynistic assholes", this thread is about something else. Alien zombie prison rape, maybe? I kind of lost track.
posted by ecurtz at 3:52 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If men have no reason to be afraid of being the targets of sexual violence save homophobia, why are women afraid of being the targets of sexual violence?

Uh, maybe because of the very real threat thereof?

All I'm suggesting is that you perhaps not redirect someone's stupidity wrt Your People onto Other People. Please and thank you.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:53 PM on June 6, 2010


This discussion reminded me of this xkcd comic. Not the cat-calling bit, but the "nice guy" thing.

I think this game is genius in concept. Too bad it's so shit in execution. I'd like to see a version with at least a rocket launcher. This game needs ludicrous gibs.
posted by Hactar at 3:57 PM on June 6, 2010


Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks

The 'shy nice guy' trope is in reference to those guys who are all like 'Gee I'm such a nice guy how come all the ladies like assholes I just want to put them on a pedestal and worship them because I am so nice why don't they notice me mope mope mope if they were smarter they'd date me.'
posted by shakespeherian at 3:58 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, see, my point is to try and redirect the gentlemen in question into a position of empathy, by positing a circumstance under which they might have a "very real threat" of being a target of sexual violence. Do you think there's a way to do that that doesn't "convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia"?
posted by KathrynT at 3:59 PM on June 6, 2010


Catcalling is violence. Violence doesn't solve for violence.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 3:59 PM on June 6, 2010


First, I don't find the concept for this game any more disturbing than GTA, and I don't find GTA particularly disturbing.

It really got me thinking about catcalls, though, about how my own feelings about them have changed over my lifetime so far.

In my youth (we're talking 13, 14 yrs old, which at the time I considered to be "adult") I honestly enjoyed it when guys would hang their heads out of their pick up trucks and whoop at me as I walked down the main drag of the dumb little town I grew up in. I have to confess it. I'd always felt like the ugly duckling as a kid. Certain boys called me ugly and a dog when I was in first and second grade, and I took it to heart. I really felt ugly.

So it was validating, if not exactly empowering, to have guys respond so positively to my looks when I got a little older. I was an early bloomer. B-cup by 8th grade. You can imagine. I got attention from a wide variety of males, from boys my own age to grown men who really should have known better, and I loved it.

Part of the problem was that sense of invincibility I had, that so many young people have.
I just couldn't believe/didn't even consider that any of these men could do me harm, until one of them did indeed rape me. It was a 28 year old guy who bought me wine coolers and told me all the time how pretty I was. By then, I had come to learn that beauty is a kind of power. Guys would buy me booze, give me drugs for free, take me out to eat! It took me a while to realize that depending on the approval of the "male gaze" for my sense of power was pretty stupid. I still sometimes think of beauty as a "weapon in my arsenal," but hardly the most valuable one.

Now that I'm in my mid 30's, my sense of invincibility long gone, I don't enjoy hearing catcalls as I used to. I HATE when a guy yells anything at me while I'm trying to jog. I've had guys actually pull their cars over and try to talk to me while I'm jogging. WTF? Does it look like I want to have a fucking conversation? And, oh yes, please let me move closer to your car to facilitate abduction! Christ almighty.

Another thing I was thinking about was the opposite of catcalls--guys yelling at women to tell them they're fat and ugly, things like that.
I have a couple overweight friends who have had to hear that shit a lot and it enrages me.

I have one friend who will run down the street screaming, "What the fuck did you just say to me?!" no matter what they yell.
I have another friend whose brother simply refuses to believe her when she tells him that women don't really like being shouted at by strangers in cars and are often frightened by it.

In his case, I blame Hollywood. I think that's where he gets all his ideas about romance and what women like.
He's really a nice guy, but he doesn't know how to think of women as regular people, like himself. He thinks all you need a corny line or a bunch of flowers and that beautiful waitress who's 15 years younger than you will totally fall in love with you and be with you happily ever after.
Romantic gestures in Hollywood films translate as creepy, stalkerish behavior in real life.
posted by apis mellifera at 4:00 PM on June 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


I, nerdy whiteguy, have really never known anybody who would catcall women as they walk down the street.

When I was living in the suburbs hanging out with the white trash degenerates I grew up with, we definitely catcalled from cars. It had absolutely nothing to do with the girls we were catcalling and we did it for the same reasons that we did stupid shit like beer bongs. Just upping-the-ante alpha male bullshit.

I was sooo fucking glad when I got out of the suburbs and started hanging around with non-idiots.

I also distinctly remember being 7 or 8 years old at the beach and my older cousins had been yelling at girls from the condo balcony. Later I was standing there with my Dad and Uncle (and I think with some prompting from my cousins) I yelled out: "HEEEEEEY BAAAABY" at the top of my lungs and ran, leaving my Dad and Uncle up there alone while a half dozen girls looked to see who was yelling at them.
posted by empath at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I read this, from one of the linked blogs:

That your passing desire means you get to derail a woman’s life whenever you feel like it is the absolute definition of male privilege.

And at first, I thought, well, yes. That sums it up nicely.

But then, I thought for a few minutes, and realized: well, no, actually, that's not it at all, because it has nothing to do with desire, and everything to do with power.

One halloween, as a teenager, I was walking with a friend who happened to be bisexual. He was done to the nines in drag, and I was in a more traditional costume. However, as we walked, he mentioned that in the dark I was attractive enough to be his date. I laughed, and struck a childish faux-limp-wrist pose, and he laughed. But at that moment, a car stopped at the end of the alley we were walking through, and the men in it started to shout things, the kind of things women have to listen to every day. We booked out of there, fast.

I have no reason to believe they shouted those things out of desire. They shouted those things because they knew we'd run. Men -- and there are a lot of them out there -- who feel powerless to earn people's respect, of either gender seem to resort to taking advantage of every moment of power imbalance in their favor to behave in ways that boost their own self-esteem at the expense of other innocent people. That's presumably why they get angry when the victim (of any gender) pushes back (verbally or physically) -- because instead of their quick ego boost, they got another stab in the pitiful, flaccid balloon of their self-esteem.

From that perspective, then, I can see why a lot of men would get upset about this game, because it shatters their view of their own behavior as empowering, and reveals it for the cowardly crutch that it is. An explosion of "grar grar awful videogame grar" is not at all surprising. To them I say: oh, just go play deer hunter, because computerized fictional deer never mouth off at you.
posted by davejay at 4:05 PM on June 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


So, see, my point is to try and redirect the gentlemen in question into a position of empathy, by positing a circumstance under which they might have a "very real threat" of being a target of sexual violence. Do you think there's a way to do that that doesn't "convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia"?

Here's an idea: Try saying something simple, like, "When you say things like that, people are liable to assume you are a rapist. The women to whom such words are directed might construe them as threats of sexual violence. You may wish to reconsider this behaviour." Or, you know, words to that effect, that don't at any point involve the suggestion that homosexuals (imprisoned or otherwise) are out to rape him.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on June 6, 2010


I literally have no idea what makes men catcall women. And any conversation that attempts to address this question always devolves into the same inside-baseball gender studies jargonspeak.

I think it would be a lot more interesting to perform some kind of survey of actual catcallers, and ask them why exactly they do it. Do they think it will lead to a date? Do they do it to impress their friends? Do they think the woman will take it as a genuine compliment? To me, this would be a hell of a lot more interesting than the 1000th iteration of the male privilege debate.
posted by Afroblanco


Very well put, Afroblanco.

I think it's a really hard behavior to account for because it seems to have very little upside for the man who does it. No woman I've ever known or read anything from would willingly have anything to do with a cat-caller.

I've come to think of it as built in, and designed to force women into a relationship with some man, rather than allowing women to be by themselves and effectively free to have sex (or not) with any man or woman they might choose, because the only thing that seems to effectively deter this kind of harassment is to walk down the street in the company of a man or men who present a credible threat of retaliation, or who have a relationship of mutual respect with potential harassers.
posted by jamjam at 4:22 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, words to that effect, that don't at any point involve the suggestion that homosexuals (imprisoned or otherwise) are out to rape him.

A male prison rapist is not likely to be homosexual. Why do you keep saying that they are?
posted by empath at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


SysRq: I'll agree, that's one tool in the toolbox for attempting to get these guys to understand. The problem is that it doesn't always work. And in particular, it places the action on the women: "People assume you are a rapist, women construe your words as threats." This gets the "dumb bitches" response. This is why my husband was looking for an empathetic construct.

Nobody ever suggested that homosexuals were out to rape anyone. I see no evidence, actually, of ANY homosexuals in my original post.
posted by KathrynT at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've come to think of it as built in, and designed to force women into a relationship with some man, rather than allowing women to be by themselves and effectively free to have sex (or not) with any man or woman they might choose, because the only thing that seems to effectively deter this kind of harassment is to walk down the street in the company of a man or men who present a credible threat of retaliation, or who have a relationship of mutual respect with potential harassers.

I think some of it is tribalism. Not saying this is exclusive to any particular race, but I've definitely seen cases where friends of mine have gone to clubs with heavy Asian populations, and there's a lot of stuff targeted at Asian girls with white guys. When I dated a Mexican girl for a while, she was catcalled by Latino guys all the time, even when I was walking with her arm and arm. That's never happened with other girls I've dated.

I'm sure every group does it to every other group, but I can mainly only speak for when I've been at the receiving end of it.
posted by empath at 4:35 PM on June 6, 2010


jamjam: "I think it's a really hard behavior to account for because it seems to have very little upside for the man who does it. No woman I've ever known or read anything from would willingly have anything to do with a cat-caller."

Really? I think learning about how society polices men's sexuality would be an emancipatory experience for most guys. At least it was for me.
posted by anonymuk at 4:40 PM on June 6, 2010


Nobody ever suggested that homosexuals were out to rape anyone. I see no evidence, actually, of ANY homosexuals in my original post.

Sigh.

The point isn't that they are gay, but that the reaction you (or your husband) are out to get is classic Gay Panic. I mean, for fuck's sake.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on June 6, 2010


I'm familiar with gay panic, and I utterly disagree that this is even remotely the same thing. Sorry. I've never once encountered the idea that they were the same thing; I've never seen any evidence, besides you right here, of anyone confusing the two issues. You think that when the characters in "Office Space" were talking about "Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison," that they were just afraid of gay people?

I mean, seriously. By this token, all women who hate being catcalled by men are lesbians.
posted by KathrynT at 4:52 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain to me whether men who catcall even have a goal in mind, and if they do, what it is? Is it to get a rise out of women? To express that they're attracted to her? Is it to be funny in front of their friends? Do they hope that she'll strip naked and fuck them right there? All of the above? Do they even think that far ahead?
It's such a bizarre social phenomenon to me.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:52 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


emilyd22222, as far as I can tell, the goal is to make sure that the women know that the men in question are watching them and have expectations about their availability. The goal is to make sure women know that there is no point in their public life during which they are NOT subject to the power that men hold over them.
posted by KathrynT at 4:55 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


apis mellivera: Romantic gestures in Hollywood films translate as creepy, stalkerish behavior in real life.

Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested

Of course, this is from The Onion, and not a Real-Life Newspaper.
posted by tzikeh at 4:59 PM on June 6, 2010


emilyd22222, the article I linked above lays out the following three motives:

When studied closely, it becomes apparent that there are three types of catcalls, each with their own distinct motivation.

The "Lunch Buddies" Catcall

Lou Paget, an AASECT-certified sex educator and best-selling author of The Great Lover Playbook, explains that this involves a "group action/mentality of men -- e.g; a display of machoness on a construction site during lunch to see who can embarrass a woman more. Their payoff is the stroke of their buddies."

The "Bitch Would Never Fuck Me" Catcall

Paget says that the motivation here is "for the man to get an attractive woman who may be out of his league to notice him." She goes on to explain that "because a guy is too chicken-shit to say something nice, he whistles at a woman, kind of like, 'I'll show her.' "

The "I Just Adore Women" Catcall

Perhaps the creepiest of all, this guy does not actually think that what he's doing is catcalling due to his "sincere appreciation of the female form."

posted by knapah at 5:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Hey, KatherineT, sorry, but, um, yeah, what you said reads, to me, as homophobic. Call it "empathetic" all you want, but, like, seriously, you have no fucking idea how completely pissed off I am at your comment, and how thoroughly uncomfortable I feel that it has been favourited so many times.

Frankly, I fail to see how you writing off my feelings about your comment is any different from the "dumb bitches" write-off you mentioned earlier. I guess you can colour this bitch thoroughly dumb.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Still holds a big kernel of truth, though. Like holding up a boombox playing "In Your Eyes" under her bedroom window? Really, really not a good idea and I have no idea why so many of my contemporaries thought this was a hugely romantic movie moment. I mean the look on Cusak's face there - it's got this grim seriousness mixed with wounded puppy look to it that freaked me out the moment I saw it. Sadly, we've now moved on to "I broke into your room and watched you as you slept".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:03 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Refering to tizkeh's Onion link, that is.)
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:05 PM on June 6, 2010


OK, SysRq, I'm sorry. I mean I truly am, because it is not my intention to come across that way, and I never imagined that I would. I'm not intending to write your feelings off, just to say that I've never encountered them before.

Is it possible, in your opinion, to separate the issue of men being afraid of being raped and homophobia? Or are they always totally, inexplicably intertwined? Because for women, being afraid of sexual violence and being afraid of straight men are two totally different issues, and absent any other information, I would like to believe that they are different for men, as well.
posted by KathrynT at 5:06 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never once encountered the idea that they were the same thing; I've never seen any evidence, besides you right here, of anyone confusing the two issues.

I agree with Sys Rq; "fucked up the ass"="gay" for straight men. The reaction they have to the threat of being raped is gay panic. Do they want to be raped? Of course not. But the real fear, for the vast majority, is the idea that they would be physically forced into an act that is the basis of their definition of homosexuality.
posted by tzikeh at 5:06 PM on June 6, 2010


tzikeh: so do they think that all prison rapists are gay men? This is just so foreign to me.
posted by KathrynT at 5:08 PM on June 6, 2010


The reaction they have to the threat of being raped is gay panic.

And, I mean, then what's the reaction that women have to the threat of being raped? Straight panic?
posted by KathrynT at 5:12 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: for women, being afraid of sexual violence and being afraid of straight men are two totally different issues, and absent any other information, I would like to believe that they are different for men, as well.

We live in a heteronormative culture; straight men are "normal." Fear of The Other is everywhere (let alone everything else that goes into gay panic).

The problem is (and I know that, at this point, the thread has strayed, but I think this aspect of the discussion is worth having) the equivalent wouldn't be women being afraid of straight men, but women being afraid of gay women. can't imagine that that's anything but rare. They might be wary of being hit on, if they're homophobic, but wouldn't be afraid of physical assault. It boils down to power=penetration. Gay women aren't seen as predators (generalization) because they don't have the equipment to physically invade.
posted by tzikeh at 5:13 PM on June 6, 2010


If sex (and the gay panic tangent here) were taken out of the equation entirely, I would have to say I would be a little more worried by some brawny guys following me into a dark alley (presumably to mug me rather than rape me) than a petite female. Most guys I know are not intimidated by most women they meet on the street. It is difficult to understand the intimidating nature of cat-calls without bringing the fact that the aggressors are male into the equation. It's unfortunate that that raises the specter of gay panic as well, but it's a scary thing even without that.
posted by grouse at 5:14 PM on June 6, 2010


do they think that all prison rapists are gay men?

Gay or not, they are engaging in what is perceived to be homosexual sex, and that (generalization) scares straight men. The difference, in their minds, is negligible.
posted by tzikeh at 5:15 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: do you have any more information about that? That strays so far from my experience -- including that of growing up in Texas -- that I'd like to read more.
posted by KathrynT at 5:17 PM on June 6, 2010


Regardless of intention, this game is absolutely a great feminist statement. It brings an issue to light that is pervasive AND overlooked and provides a catalyst for educating conversation. The game itself is a)super-shitty, graphically and gameplaywise and b)totally irrelevant. I don't need to play or enjoy the game to get the message. Its an FPS that lets me, a 19 white male, into a world that I cannot experience. It automatically triggers identification with the victim. I'm going to be honest, before this Metafilter post I had NO idea the effect of catcalling and I run in some pretty feminist-saturated circles. I've approached women on the street and (politely) complimented them before, without ever thinking of what that might be like for them. And I've been passive in catcalling situations before (with a group of friends without saying anything to stop them). It certainly changed my perspective.

To those engaging in smh over the violence aspect, I would argue that it is central to the very conceit of the game itself. The game is not a sexist glorification of gendercide because you could insert lesbians into the game along side the men and not change or diminish the point of it - mowing down these self-centered and libido driven zombies. The game makes part of its point by co-opting the format of the zombie-slaughter shooters that are so popular right now. The catcallers are cast in a role that equates them with how we conceive of the zombies that we're cool with kill - unthinking beings that have had their humanity stripped because they only think about one thing (usually eating human flesh, but in this case its more like "having sex with a human). And pointing out the unthinking of the practice makes you think.

On the whole "thinking of applicable ways to make men understand this within the context of their existence", while I really like the dollar analogy and the prison thing kind of works, neither of those reflect how violating it is on a intimate level nor the power structures at work. The best analogy I can think of for men(like me) would be the violation felt when you're getting hit on by what you perceive to be a perv/pedophile when you're a teen. I know pedophile is a charged word, and might be wrong in most cases, but its about the perception of the victim here. Every guy has experienced the creepy teacher/coach/uncle/adult stranger who gets in your space and makes unwanted/unsolicited comments about your body, your cuteness, asks how things are "going with the ladies". If they haven't they're very lucky. But because there is the adult/minor imbalance in play in these situations, you're constrained from responding as you'd want to - calling him a creep, pushing him away, flipping him off. You can ignore it, or smile and try to deflect the comment or be roped into a situation/conversation you're very uncomfortable with. Even in that case you can learn to try and avoid that gym teacher or whisper about his creepiness in the hallway or prepare yourself for most of the interactions. For women, the creepiness comes from total strangers and from all sides.
posted by Chipmazing at 5:18 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Re-reading over the thread, and my comments here, it occurs to me that I may need to stress "these are generalizations" even more. I do not mean "all straight men" by any means, just as "nice guys," upthread, doesn't mean all nice guys, etc. As nice guys shouldn't take those comments as an attack, I hope that straight men here don't take my comments as meaning that I think this is true of every straight guy out there.
posted by tzikeh at 5:21 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq: Try saying something simple, like, "When you say things like that, people are liable to assume you are a rapist. The women to whom such words are directed might construe them as threats of sexual violence. You may wish to reconsider this behaviour."

I don't disagree with your point that "prison rape" and "aaagh teh gayz!" are conflated in the minds of a lot of straight men. This particular script is really likely to be futile, though.

People tried this tack in the Schrodinger's Rapist thread. All it got them was endless repetitions from various quarters of "But I'M not a rapist. It's not fair for women to generalize to all men from a few bad apples. What business have women got construing me and every man as a threat?" The rebuttals, from several dozen participants because the effort was such a heavy slog, took days to have any effect. What's the point of saying what you suggested, when we already know the odds against the interaction going anywhere productive, safe, or even merely civil? We know it from tedious experience, the way that particular angle typically devolves.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:23 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


But the real fear, for the vast majority, is the idea that they would be physically forced into an act that is the basis of their definition of homosexuality.

No, I don't think so. In the context of prison, it's not about homosexuality at all. The victim is not raped because someone wants them to feel like a homosexual. They are raped because someone wants to exert power over them in the same way a rapist wants to exert power over a woman. It's the same power dynamic. I understand that many men may have problems with gay people, but rape isn't about that at a visceral level, and I think the message gets across regardless of the cultural baggage.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:31 PM on June 6, 2010


I sure as shit would be afraid of being raped in prison and it has nothing to do with homophobia.
posted by empath at 5:36 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Once my daughter and I were headed into a grocery store and she was catcalled by men in a passing pickup. IN FRONT OF ME, HER MOTHER.

I'm not shy. I spoke up, whereupon one of them threw a ciggy lighter at me. I called the cops, who took it seriously.

I am not a fan of violence, or of violent video games. But I certainly see the appeal of this one.

It would be wonderful if other men would speak up and tell these ditwads to shut up, that these women are someone's daughters, or mothers, or sisters, and that their lack of respect is.....disturbing. But unfortunately I'm not really holding my breath.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:36 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I sure as shit would be afraid of being raped in prison and it has nothing to do with homophobia.

I think, even if you look at media depictions it's not about homophobia, either. Inevitably, the prison rapist is some muscular gang leader of color - which might say something right there. It's never a self-identified homosexual, which probably wouldn't seem as threatening anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:45 PM on June 6, 2010


KathrynT: do you have any more information about that?

I think the fact that prison rape is often referred to as "gay rape" speaks to it, for a start.
What – straight men rape men? The statistics seem to bear this out – half of all convicted gay rapists claim that their consenting sexual acts are conducted exclusively with women.

***

According to the Human Rights Watch report on male rape in prison, many prisoners have been accused of being “gay” by prison officials when reporting rapes.

***

(This question is from Yahoo Answers, blah blah blah idiotcakes, but indicative of this line of thinking)

Why do most males who are raped become gay?
I'm not gay , but maybe since this is the gay section someone could answer this question. Well why do most males become gay after being raped , I mean isn't this a bad thing , and they'll try anything to not revive it?
I'm sure if I spent more than five minutes googling terms, I could find a lot more along these same lines.
posted by tzikeh at 5:50 PM on June 6, 2010


Wait, so because some idiots think being raped makes you gay that any male who is afraid of being raped is a homophobe?
posted by empath at 5:54 PM on June 6, 2010


KathrynT: rape is something that is only done by men. (Yes, exceptions exist; no, they are not statistically significant.)

I honestly wish there was a button I could press to anti-favorite this post. What a repugnant, marginalizing, stupid and misinformed statement. Its probably not entire your fault, cultural condition obviously had an effect, but you come off as a pretty educated person who is advancing this conversation. People like you, who ought to know better, shouldn't advance such an idiotic cultural narrative. Woman are rapists. Its a fact. The statistics are skewed because people make statements like this that are never refuted and thusly guys things they can't be raped by women and women underreport nonconsensual contact with other women because of cultural attitudes like this one.

An erection is not consent/Consent is a two-way street, etc. etc. Female rapists are not "an exception", they're criminals who commit a crime that society, because of oppressive double standards, doesn't care about. I know male rape victims and, while I don't feel comfortable trotting out my personal experiences in this public of a forum, I just want to say that it is attitudes like this that force silence, that compound the confusion and pain and that provide cover and support for rape and rapists.
posted by Chipmazing at 5:56 PM on June 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


The victim is not raped because someone wants them to feel like a homosexual.

But I'm not talking about the intent of the rapist; I'm talking about the response of the victim.

I sure as shit would be afraid of being raped in prison and it has nothing to do with homophobia.

:nod: As I said, this is certainly a generalization, and as cybercoitus said upthread, the responses of "It wouldn't be about that for me" are individual, and akin to the "But I'm not a rapist" responses from the Schrödinger’s Rapist thread.
posted by tzikeh at 5:56 PM on June 6, 2010


Tzikeh, the "gay rape" referred to in your first link discusses a rape that happened outside of prison. The prison rape seems to be referred to as "prison rape." Your second link goes to a term-papers-for-sale site, without cited sources, and the Yahoo Answers question (which I agree is useful from a public-perception line of thinking) has 23 answers, nearly all of which are "What are you talking about? That's not true."
posted by KathrynT at 5:57 PM on June 6, 2010


KathrynT - women rape men, way more than you seem to think. The number of instances is likely nowhere near that of men raping women, but it is vastly underreported.

I promise that I won't pursue this particular derail after this one comment, but the idea that women are not rapists is a major misconception.
posted by tzikeh at 5:59 PM on June 6, 2010


Chipmazing, I'm willing to be informed. I've done research on this subject, and from everything I can tell, approximately 1% of rapes are committed by women. This isn't limited to reported statistics; female-aggressor rape is even more dramatically underreported than male-aggressor rape, for sad and nauseating reasons. 1% of rapes is too many, but I stand by my assertion that if 99% of all rapes are committed by men, then it is basically men who rape.

I'd love to see other statistics and other information.
posted by KathrynT at 6:01 PM on June 6, 2010


empath: Wait, so because some idiots think being raped makes you gay that any male who is afraid of being raped is a homophobe?

Of course not. Empath, please stop conflating my examples of the general mindset with "all men think this way." I've pointed out numerous times that I know that isn't true, and is not what I'm saying.
posted by tzikeh at 6:01 PM on June 6, 2010


KathrynT: the "gay rape" referred to in your first link discusses a rape that happened outside of prison....

Yes, but I was responding to your question do you have any more information about that?, which I took to be a response to my comment "Gay or not, they are engaging in what is perceived to be homosexual sex, and that (generalization) scares straight men," and wanted to show the pervasiveness of this faulty assumption. If your question was addressing one of my comments about prison rape specifically, I apologize for including the links to the broader topic of the conflation of male-on-male rape (including rape in prison) and homosexuality, but I think the point still stands.
posted by tzikeh at 6:10 PM on June 6, 2010


I'm sorry, but that is intellectual wussiness of the highest order. You've spent most of your life engaging in virtual power fantasies and now, because you might possibly be in the victim category on this one, you freak?

Doesn't bother me in the least bit buddy, I can only be dispatched with the most frustratingly complicated quicktime event you ever saw. On the PS3 I actually require you to hit Xbox buttons. And you should see my harrassment patterns! Try dodging those!
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:15 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'd like to retract and apologize for my statement that female-aggressor rape is insignificant. I meant "statistically," but even so, that was a shitty and minimizing thing to say. Apologies.
posted by KathrynT at 6:19 PM on June 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually I've just thought of an example which might provide some useful perspective to fellow males in this thread. You may have experienced something similar to the following scenario: you are walking down the street in the city, or through a shopping mall, and you detect something predictable up ahead. It is a street-based salesperson, perhaps a WWF advocate, somebody who wants you to help the children, or do you have a minute to talk about the environment? It's likely that you don't, not because you don't care about children or the environment, but because your concern is not one that manifests just because you've been asked about it and if you were going to do something about it you would pursue it in your own way.

Imagine being approached - or, indeed, accosted by these people who want to "ask you a quick question" - not just once or twice but literally dozens and dozens of times per day, on every street corner. You cross to try and avoid them but get gotten by another lot. They spring out from behind things and wave their hands in front of you to get your attention.

They're fucking annoying. You start off politely declining or perhaps, when young and naive, you actually stop and listen to them for a few moments, then find an excuse to brush them off. You're in a hurry. Got to catch the train. Important meeting. True or not they don't believe you because "this will only take a minute, surely you've got a minute for [superficially worthy cause]." But you don't. You reject and you reject, again and again, all day, every time you go out for a walk to get from A to B. Eventually you get angry. "Not interested!" you bellow because this is the twentieth cunt who has pestered you in the last hour. It's annoying. Everybody is annoyed by it.

Now imagine that, in response to your rejection, these people GET ANGRY AT YOU. "Who the fuck do you think you are not stopping to talk about bowel cancer?" "You stuck-up asshole, too good to not sign up for monthly donations to human rights?" "Ugly slut, fuck you for not caring about the animals!" And not only do you get abused, but then some of them follow you, berating you for what is perceived as a personal attack on them but is really just a symptom of you not being able to bear it any more.

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a person living in the modern world who hasn't had an encounter with somebody (well-intentioned, perhaps) pestering them in the street about some cause or another. And I think that, of those people who have, they were probably irritated by it more often than not. Amplify these feelings of harrassment and irritation and then combine them with actual fear for your physical safety because you dared to say no.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


too good to not sign up
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:47 PM on June 6, 2010


Doesn't bother me in the least bit buddy, I can only be dispatched with the most frustratingly complicated quicktime event you ever saw. On the PS3 I actually require you to hit Xbox buttons. And you should see my harrassment patterns! Try dodging those!

ELBERETH! UPUPDOWNDOWNLEFTRIGHTLEFTRIGHTBASTART! PRAY! PRAY! I CHANGED CONTROLLER PORTS AND NOTHING HAPPENED! WHAT DO I DO???!!!

Dear Nintendo Power,
....
posted by fuq at 7:24 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like it very much if this thread stayed on the topic of women being harassed by catcalls instead of...peripheral other things which may be needing to be discussed but perhaps not here?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:28 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


In the light of day, when I'm safe in my home, with my lovely significant other beside me, the game seems disturbingly violent. I tend to get annoyed at wanton violence in video games -- just not my thing, and I think it often just acts as a mask for bad writing and bad gameplay.

....

But I think back to one night when I was in college. It was about 9pm, and I was waiting for the bus that only came once an hour. I was eating a sandwich, actually, and I had about 15 more minutes until the bus came. It was very quiet, and it was one of those college roads that see almost no traffic after school hours. A car drove up with a bunch of guys in it, and it stopped directly in front of me. They rolled down the window, and the guy I saw most clearly just stared. Just stared directly at me. There wasn't anything I could do. Because it was one of those covered bus stops, there was no movement I could make that wouldn't put me closer to the car. I couldn't do anything but just wait, and hope they decided to leave me the hell alone.

It's not the only time I've been harassed while on the street, far from it, but I remember how creeped out I felt that night, after they finally left, after the bus came, after I went home to my extremely dark and lonely dorm room, where I continued to feel defenseless and open to attack.

At times like that? When I feel exposed, frightened? I can see a game like this as being very useful. I can see how it could help one feel empowered, at those moments when one feels the most vulnerable. It's like a sick, disturbing psychological boost for people who are made to feel scared.
posted by meese at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks

There is nothing nice about not being able to see outside of yourself, beyond your own suffering and hurt, to the suffering and hurt of others. If you read the Schrödinger’s Rapist thread and still think your own hurt about not being able to approach women is more important and appropriate to bring up here... you are not being a nice guy.

And speaking as a guy who is shy and socially... often not the greatest, but who likes shy people a lot - the thing I like most about shy people is how they tend to be people who are extra-considerate of others, and take great care to respect other people's space and boundaries. In that sense, in this thread at least, you have not been shy at all.

This is not in any way intended to belittle what you may be going through. But maybe you might find it easier to approach women if you saw them and cared about them as human beings, more than you care about yourself. That's not a zinger - I sincerely mean it. They are human beings, many of whom are hurting just like you. In addition to hurting in many ways that you could never know, every day, just because they have to live as women in this world. If you genuinely cared about that more than your own chances of approaching women, maybe things will change for you. Just for one example: if you cared about what women go through enough to read these threads and listen to what women find comfortable and uncomfortable, you would be more likely to be seen and felt as good company, and less likely to be rejected harshly or get a negative reaction that hits your self-esteem. In many ways, it's like the some of the answers to your problem may be right in front of your eyes.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't think anybody (except one or two dissenters maybe) is debating the things we figured out in the Schroedinger's rapist thread about what it's like to be a woman in society.

meese: "I can see how it could help one feel empowered, at those moments when one feels the most vulnerable. It's like a sick, disturbing psychological boost for people who are made to feel scared."

That's how I would describe the motivations behind catcalling. These men feel like they can't live up to the expectations that society has placed on them. They catcall because it's a sick, disturbing psychological boost. (Of course, catcalling is directly at the expense of a woman's safety and I don't mean to undermine that.)
posted by anonymuk at 7:53 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's a really hard behavior to account for because it seems to have very little upside for the man who does it.

I think it's not a question of "very little upside", but rather very little downside; after all, if guy A is in a car with guy B and guy C, and guy A verbally harasses* a woman, the worst outcome that can be reasonably expected is that guy A's buddies will say "hey, knock it off, man" or some similar "yeah yeah, we know you're trying to be funny, but it's time to stop now" level of social correction. Which is to say, almost none at all.

So: upside? You get to feel powerful. Downside? None whatsoever, really. And so it goes.

*I think we should stop calling it "catcalls" and call it verbal harassment, because that's what it is
posted by davejay at 8:08 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like it very much if this thread stayed on the topic of women being harassed by catcalls instead of...peripheral other things

In fairness that is not strictly the topic being discussed here, but your point is generally valid.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:13 PM on June 6, 2010


I used to drive a car 10 hours a day doing point-to-point courier work in the greater Phoenix metroplex. I had sort of adopted a stray guy as a lover and roommate for a while. He wasn't exactly gay, but he was far from straight. He'd sometimes go out on car rides with me during the day.

I'd often see really hot men as I was driving around, and would say to myself as I drove (often loudly, but with the windows rolled up), "WOOF! Wow, he's hot" or something similar.

One day, this guy riding with me rolls down the window and shouts at a woman as we drive past "hey, nice tits!" I was horrified, and started to chew him out.

His response was, "well, you do the same thing all the time." I really didn't know how to respond. Yes, I did vocalize my sexual visual attraction to men as I drove around the city. But NEVER as a shouted statement flying from my open car window toward the men I was talking about. It was all internal, meant for my own ears (and maybe those of the Universe at large?), and kind of a minor stress release as I dealt with heavy urban traffic daily.

My friend never could see the difference between my in-the-car statements and his shouted-out-the-window aggression. That puzzles me to this day.
posted by hippybear at 8:37 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My friend never could see the difference between my in-the-car statements and his shouted-out-the-window aggression. That puzzles me to this day.

The difference is one of degree, not of substance.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:48 PM on June 6, 2010


I used to get catcalls in the neighborhood where this just happened. It could have been me, or any other (likely) woman who dares to walk down the street.

So yeah, it would be nice to not feel violent urges toward men who make women fear Sabina Rose's fate, but I do. Sign me up.
posted by nosila at 8:49 PM on June 6, 2010


> My friend never could see the difference between my in-the-car statements and his shouted-out-the-window aggression. That puzzles me to this day.

The difference is one of degree, not of substance.


I don't think that is a question of degree at all. The object of lust didn't hear the affectations at all. Voicing it with the windows rolled up is more like voicing it in one's head. Two separate things.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:49 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Great. Thanks to turgid dahlia I've got an almost insurmountable urge to spray mace in the face of the next Hare Krishna dude who tries to get me to hand over my hard-earned for one of those stupid fucking "Smile!" stickers.

Wait - now that I think about it, I've always felt that way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:56 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh, I'd support catcalling being redefined as an offense against which lethal force is allowed.

Go ahead, shoot the catcallers. I'd vote for that.
posted by Netzapper at 8:57 PM on June 6, 2010


Well, at least there is some racial diversity in the men in the game. I'll give half a point for that.
posted by thedotorg at 8:59 PM on June 6, 2010


Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks

There's a huge difference between catcalling and making eye contact with a girl in line at Starbuck's and she smiles at you and then you smile back and then you kind of make a distracted (but not really) comment on how the weather is suppose to be nice and if she says "Yep" or is really short with you, you drop it but if she says, "Yeah, finally going to get to the lake this weekend, I can't believe I haven't been out there since the summer started," and then you make a comment about the book she's holding, this, this is normal social behavior.

Then again that's an outside case and really relies on the woman initiating it non-verbally (looking at you, then smiling). I bet in the average attractive guy's life this sort of thing happens probably very rare, <6 times over a lifetime. I think if you relied on the axiom of not hitting on girls in places where it is not socially acceptable to do so (outside of bars, clubs, parties, etc.), you'll probably go through life fine.

This is completely different than the catcalling being described here, which is really slanted towards those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. The nerdy white guy equivalent isn't, "Damn girl let me put a baby up in that ass," it is the same Starbucks only she's looking straight ahead, you're looking at her, you make eye contact but then she looks away, then you kind of saddle up next to her, "Hey," "Um Hey," (she looks away), "So I read the book you're reading, if you like it you should totally read [look how smart I am author]", "Um, yeah sure," "Hey have you seen, Robin Hood, I heard it was really good?" (5 seconds, I'm-trying-to-ignore-you-pause) "Uh I don't know," (Strained conversation followed by the please-leave-me-alone, "I got to go" curt response).
posted by geoff. at 9:03 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not on preview:

My friend never could see the difference between my in-the-car statements and his shouted-out-the-window aggression. That puzzles me to this day.

The difference is one of degree, not of substance.


Uh, no.

In the situation where you're saying it to yourself, in the car, the object of your attraction is not even aware of it, let alone made uncomfortable with it.

Arguing that it's a difference of degree is akin to arguing that it's somehow wrong to be attracted to another person. Is it wrong to think, "Wow, I'd tap that."?

I understand that it's harmful to society as a whole to objectify people as sexual things, but I think we're losing out on a huge part of what it is to be human if it's morally unacceptable to feel lust. I mean, I'm as much for respectful human discourse as the next person, but, sweet jesus, I should be allowed to want to fuck strangers so long as such desire doesn't harm anybody else.
posted by Netzapper at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


There's a huge difference between catcalling and making eye contact with a girl in line at Starbuck's...Then again that's an outside case and really relies on the woman initiating it non-verbally (looking at you, then smiling)...

Also it relies on whether you'd actually go into a Starbucks or not.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2010


That's how I would describe the motivations behind catcalling. These men feel like they can't live up to the expectations that society has placed on them. They catcall because it's a sick, disturbing psychological boost.

Yeah, that's definitely true.
posted by meese at 10:02 PM on June 6, 2010


To me, this would be a hell of a lot more interesting than the 1000th iteration of the male privilege debate.

But is it art?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:03 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: I think the fact that prison rape is often referred to as "gay rape" speaks to it, for a start.

Not on this planet. I have never heard that. It's often referred to as prison rape. I don't know what point you and Sys Rq are trying so hard to make, but I sure don't see how attacking Kathryn T so repeatedly is helping the cause of reducing cat-calling.
posted by msalt at 11:46 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've already talked about this a ton before, but not about the violent revenge fantasy reaction. So yeah, if we're being completely honest: I absolutely have violent urges when men approach me at this point, beyond all reason really, it's like a reflex now. A lot of the time the guy will be cordial enough and leave me alone early enough despite feeling somewhat entitled to my attention... and when he walks away, though I'm smiling politely and grateful he wasn't a bad guy, my blood is still boiling, I'm still thinking about the way I'd feared things would go, still thinking about hurting him. When assholes catcall women, or follow them around in their car or on foot like my experiences in my previous comment, it absolutely instills a hostility toward men who don't actually deserve it. When you deal with assholes frequently enough, you can start to automatically think, Come on, just fucking try it, I dare you, when a guy looks at you with interest. Some women have the opposite reaction, where they feel frightened or denigrated to the extent that all the energy drains from them. When I'm wondering if I would actually have the nerve to jab my finger into a guy's eye socket if he tries to put a hand on me, and if I would have that sensory memory with me for the rest of my life, and what it would feel like and what I would do after -- go for the other eye? run? will I be the one that gets in trouble? -- and what around me could be used as a weapon -- pen, keys, that plastic silverware, the chair, these tables are lightweight -- I actually envy those women. Just having the violent urges is traumatic enough. It makes me physically ill.

It's to the point now where I wouldn't be surprised if the way I end up dying is physically attacking a guy who gets shitty with me. Whenever a guy even looks at me like he might approach me now, my adrenaline surges. The other day I had a vivid fantasy of smashing the Snapple bottle I was carrying and stabbing a guy in the face with it but I was in a safe, crowded area on a subway platform so I would be fine if he tried anything, and I managed to slip away and hide on a different train. I purposely only carry mace because 1), if I had an actual weapon I know a guy could easily grab it from me and kill me with it, and 2) when I'm not in the moment, the thought of physically hurting another person, asshole or not, is really upsetting to me and not a memory I would want to live with. In the moments where I think I could need to, though, it's a joyous thought. I hate, hate, hate feeling that.

I don't know if I would want to play a video game about it -- and I LOVE video games -- because it's such an upsetting feeling to merely remember these incidents that I'm not sure I would get any catharsis out of it. I'll play violent video games about stuff I'm removed from because I don't actually have urges to kill the kinds of targets mainstream video games provide, and I've never been in situations like the ones where I'm supposed to kill those targets. I really don't think it would be healthy for me to wallow in violent fantasies I actually have from time to time. (Which isn't a knock against the game, because I could easily see it being therapeutic for other women.)

In that comment I linked I noted two kinds of protections I had implemented against being approached by guys who think they're entitled to my attention: gaining weight, and dressing dyke-y (I'm bisexual and identify more with stereotypically masculine traits so it's more comfortable for me anyway). By the way, I hope that term doesn't offend anyone because I only think of it in positive terms and I identify with it. Anyway, here's an update on things that have happened since then.

First of all, I lost weight again. Actually writing that comment helped me to identify what a misguided response to the situation that was, and I was sick of feeling ungainly and unhealthy, so I decided not to let the catcalling idiots have that kind of control over my health. Losing weight is quite easy for me so I barely did anything and it was gone. So that's something. But of COURSE the moment it happens, guys start talking to me again, so I just feel unhealthy in a new way.

So I ramped up the dyke-yness. I started wearing ties and sometimes vests. I'm actually thrilled with this because I like dressing well, and if anyone smiles at me it's women who don't say anything. When life gives you lemons, right? This helped a ton; guys actually talk to me more, but it's always to compliment my fashion sense in a sort of fellow-male teach-me-your-secrets way; there's absolutely no flirtatious undertones. It's not I want you, it's I want to be you and there's a kind of respect for me as a person that's entirely lacking in the other interactions I have with male strangers. It's like since I'm masculine, they actually have empathy for me. Guys have asked to get a picture with me and it's all in a businesslike, art appreciation sort of way; after the picture, they thank me and leave, like I'm one of the Disneyland mascots or something. They don't stick around and make awkward conversation, they don't ask for my number. They genuinely want to compliment me without expecting anything in return (unless you count the rare picture, but I can at least identify with that as a fellow creative person). It's refreshing.

But I can't always dress like that: I volunteer in a garden at the arboretum. On those days I have to wear sweatpants and a t-shirt -- and no, not sexy sweatpants and a sexy t-shit. After gardening for four hours, I usually walk to the nearby mall and get lunch in the foodcourt. I bring a book, both because I like to read and because it's a shield against some men who might otherwise approach me -- "Whatcha readin'?" was really an apt thread title.

So recently I went and sat there, reading my book, with my cheap Target sweatpants, my old college t-shirt, and sweaty, unwashed, unbrushed hair. I can be pretty objective about my looks -- I'm neither too hard nor too soft on myself -- and I thought I looked pretty meh. Losing weight means I'm down to a small B-cup again, so it's not like my boobs were attracting anyone. Usually guys approach me because of my ass, but I was sitting down. Sweatpants obscured any curves in my legs, which are maybe my other attractive feature.

And a guy fucking comes and sits across from me and starts trying to talk me up. WHAT AM I READING, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, HERE WE FUCKING GO.

If it's not obvious: sitting down in front of someone like you're entitled is incredibly rude and insulting. Also, he pretty much trapped me: he asked me if anyone was using the chair, which to any sane person would sound like he wanted to borrow it for another table. When I said no, he sat in it. He purposely phrased it in a way so as to play clueless about having gotten my permission. Real classy. (For the record, another line I hate: "Is anyone sitting here?" or, "Is this seat taken?" Because obviously no one is sitting there. That doesn't mean you can. That doesn't mean it's okay to put me in the position of saying, "No, but I don't want you to sit there either." You're basically saying that if I want to reject you without coming across as a bitch, I'll have to lie to do it, and that is fucked up. Either ask if you can sit there or not -- don't be disingenuous. Plus some people genuinely just want to sit there because there aren't a lot of chairs available and I don't want to have to decode what the hell you mean.)

I have to say, I was so very baffled that it was even happening -- and of course, of course the one day of the week I wasn't dressed like I was trolling for women; it doesn't matter if I don't want to be Mr. Suave Well-Dressed Asshole every day, there is NO PEACE if I want to dress comfortably -- that any usual hostility I might feel was completely drowned out by confusion. I sincerely wondered for the first several lines of his chat up if he was a bit mentally ill, maybe having some sort of manic episode, but after mentally comparing it to manic episodes of people I know I couldn't be sure. He seemed normal enough. I wondered if "mall food court" is arguably a place where I should expect come ons, if people go there to meet other people like in a bar or a club, and maybe I should cut him some slack... but I was obviously reading -- he used that as an excuse to talk to me -- and not looking for action, so he should have known better. And the whole set up was so infuriating, like he thought he could trick me into talking to him. Like I was some puzzle for him to manipulate, and not a human being.

After a couple of painfully awkward minutes of his trying to be super respectful but inadvertently insulting my intelligence by expecting me to fall for such stupid lines, I felt so uncomfortable I wanted to grab my stuff and run or just burst into tears. He told me, for example, that he hadn't seen a girl with green eyes before, which is so infuriating because my options are either to nod placidly, like I'm a total idiot who thinks that's actually plausible, or else say, "Uh, what? Did your parents raise you in a cage?" It wasn't that he was threatening, it was that he had socially twisted everything, had put on such a nice act and was so complimentary, that I would look like a real bitch to be blunt with him and tell him to leave. That shit is awful, because when someone is hostile to me I don't feel any qualms about standing up for myself. When they twist shit around like that, I feel incredibly weak. When I look back on this, I think, "God, you should have just been harsh; he deserved it." But it's really hard to feel that way in the moment. I felt entirely helpless. It's a complete mindfuck because it preys on people's natural feelings to smooth over social situations, to take other people in good faith until they show beyond a shadow of a doubt that you shouldn't, and to keep things from escalating to unpleasantness. That kind of abuse of social power, to me, is in some ways worse than being openly assholish.

In other words, there's a difference between a guy being sincerely nice but clueless, and the shit this guy was doing. He was trying to make it difficult for me to reject him by twisting everything around -- like my feelings in the matter where unimportant and it would be just as much a victory to get my number my exhausting my options.

And here I just wanted to read my damn book and look as ugly as I wanted without anyone hassling me, much less manipulating and insulting me. But no, life will probably never be that way for me, because every single day that I let my guard down, without exception, some asshole waltzes in to remind me it's never okay to do that. I'm not even very attractive. I'm not even wearing feminine clothes when I'm not in my uberdyke uniform, I'm just wearing gardening shit. It's not even nice gardening shit. It's shit gardening shit.

Oh, and as for the whole "I wonder if girls don't care as long as the guy is attractive," he was actually extremely physically attractive, and by the end of it I wanted to ram a chair leg through his skull. Yes, good ole hostility returned. There is no emotion I feel during these interactions that is positive. None. I do not feel flattered. I do not feel attractive. I feel frightened, or I feel panicked, or I feel awkward, or I feel insulted, or I feel objectified, or I feel powerless, or I feel hatred, or I feel rage, or I feel all of those. I don't feel those things when a guy gets to be my friend beforehand. I feel those things when a guy approaches me in a public environment where I should have some expectation of not being scammed on, and then pretends to want to be my friend when all he knows about me is what I look like.

I told him that I have a husband, because it's a factual statement into which you can't read bitchiness -- though as I mentioned in my previous comment, it does not deter many men. At which point he paled and said, "Is he here?" and I said, "No, but he's about to be." I absolutely relished the way he fled. Yeah, you feel panicked for a while, you disingenuous, manipulative motherfucker.

So now I change clothes in the arboretum bathroom after I'm done volunteering. Seriously. I wipe away whatever sweat I can, put on my stupid slacks and my stupid button-up and my stupid tie, and I go walk the mile to the mall in the summer heat. All thanks to assholes.

When stuff like this happens all the time, I think it's inevitable that many women start to feel violent urges. When you feel routinely disrespected and all attempts to reason with those kinds of people don't work, you grudgingly come to that violence is probably your only option for making them take you seriously -- which is to say, you have no real options at all, which just adds to the underlying rage you can never act on.

I will say that the sympathy and willingness of many men on MeFi to listen and reconsider things actually helps with this a lot; when I start to research tasers on the internet because I don't want to shoot guys, it's nice to think of MeFi and know that talking does help at least a little bit and that's one outlet women can actually use. So thanks. And to any extent that you can, please deter your friends from the sorts of behavior we talk about; I know some of you do already and it's really appreciated, and I know some of your friends won't listen and there's not much you can do about it. But anything is better than nothing. I don't think it's helpful to anyone that women have violent revenge fantasies; it's not great for us, it's not great for the guys that do the catcalling, and it's not great for the guys that don't do anything wrong.
posted by Nattie at 12:10 AM on June 7, 2010 [40 favorites]


While the dynamics are completely different, if you live in the right place, you are subject to the constant potential threat of violence regardless of your gender.

The fact that so many men have to "imagine" what women feel like tells me a lot of gamers are not urban dwellers.

I live in what some would call a "bad neighborhood", and I cannot leave my apartment without being approached by panhandlers. Most of the time these interactions are completely benign, but about once out of every 20 times, the level of potential threat goes up. You never know when the escalation of verbal gymnastics (trying to seem threatening, potentially violent, etc) is going to turn into a mugging attempt. People are pretty routinely assaulted and even shot in my neighborhood.

Among other things I make it my business never to walk across the street to the gas station for a pack of smokes after dark. And in general I try to walk with other people.

This isn't an excuse for catcalling by any stretch of the imagination, but we live in a violent, dangerous, and unfair world. It would be nice if we didn't, but we do.

I find myself trying to square the dynamics of my interactions with (often aggressive) panhandlers in a "bad neighborhood" with the reactions of women to catcallers. For instance, although in general I resent being hit up for change and would rather it happened a lot less, my attitude towards it has altered over the years I've lived here. I tend to see it more now as an opportunity to engage with (often homeless) people who share urban space with me, and I've even come to know some of the homeless in my neighborhood by name.

Again, I'm not suggesting that women are or should feel obligated to transform the catcalling experience. The gender issues at play (among other things) make the dynamics significantly different, but at the same time, aside from my own experience, I know both men and women who react to aggressive panhandlers on a very broad spectrum. And when someone (especially a man) reacts in a way that I consider overly nervous or resentful, I tend to judge them for it just a little bit.

To me it signifies being sheltered and/or just insecure in the urban environment.

It's a tough balance to strike between your fear/resentment of being approached on the street and your desire to simply try to be a person who engages with the space you live in.

But in general, I feel like Americans tend to walk around with a general "don't mess with me" attitude, while in other countries, people expect "unwanted" social interaction to happen on the street spontaneously. I wonder if women in those other countries react to or experience catcalling differently.
posted by macross city flaneur at 12:35 AM on June 7, 2010


Nattie: I understand your frustration, but I don't understand your unwillingness to be blunt in social situations which you find reprehensible. There is no social contract which states that you must be nice to people you meet. If you find the intrusion of men such as the one you described so difficult to endure, why do you not say things like "did your parents raise you in a cave?" when it is appropriate?

I'm not a straight man, I don't approach women randomly hoping to hit on them. (I don't even approach men, actually). But believe me, if you want the situation to end, all you have to do is give off a few hostile vibes and it will end. I've had it happen to me -- waiting in the line in the grocery store, something is going on at the register, it's obvious that people in the line find it frustrating, I try to make a few jokes and get everyone's humor level up, and a woman in line near me completely shuts it down with a few nasty comments. Obviously she thinks I'm hitting on her, but her meaning is clear, and it stops whatever interaction I may have been having with her right then and there, regardless of my intent.

Why is that a bad thing? I don't think it is. It's confusing and rude, but it's certainly not going to have any repercussions. We're strangers waiting in line at the grocery store. In your case, sitting in a mall food court. So what? Just do it.

Life is too short to be polite to idiots. Even if one of those idiots is queer, well-meaning me.
posted by hippybear at 12:37 AM on June 7, 2010


Oh, also, little word of advice that might be of use to some: if you get catcalled (or whatever) from a building site, then take note of the organisation managing the construction (they should have a sign or two hanging up) and call them. Tell them the time and the place of the harrassment and give a description of the person or persons who did it. Give them names if one of them said something to his mate like "Good one Barry!" In Australia at least, the construction management crack down on that shit big time.
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:43 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nattie: I understand your frustration, but I don't understand your unwillingness to be blunt in social situations which you find reprehensible. There is no social contract which states that you must be nice to people you meet. If you find the intrusion of men such as the one you described so difficult to endure, why do you not say things like "did your parents raise you in a cave?" when it is appropriate?

Because it's not true that giving off hostile vibes will cause the situation to end. It's very nice that you will simply stop if a woman thinks you're trying to hit on her and makes it clear that it's unwelcome, but I hope it's clear from my previous comment and the other comments of women here that having a hostile reaction usually means more trouble for us. Even guys who are not aggressive often get defensive and feel the need to justify their behavior, which entails more conversation, not less, and with a much more unpleasant tone where they try to blame me for rejecting them. As I mentioned in the comment I linked, when I have been cold to men I have had them call me a bitch. It has never worked out that they simply left me alone. Women have men scream in their face, call them bitches, insult them, and follow them for blocks just because they weren't nice to them.

If it's the type of guy where politely rejecting him will not make him go away, then being cold generally does not do anything but make the situation worse.

I hope that clears that up. Er, that sounds snarky, but I don't mean it to be.
posted by Nattie at 12:44 AM on June 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, I should note that I was not friendly to the guy or anything. I kept trying to read my book while he was talking to me, and I gave him short answers and awkward, busy looks. When I have tried being blunt with men, like saying, "I'm sorry, I'm not interested," or, "I'm married," I get put-on, offended lines like, "I just want to be your friend," and how bitchy and presumptuous of me to think they were interested in me... which then they use as an excuse to keep hassling me. When I say I don't want to be their friend, I get things like, "Damn baby, why are you so mean?" The only reason "I'm married" worked on this guy is because he was terrified my husband was going to see him and beat his ass. I have literally had guys sit at the same table with me until my husband did arrive, despite my telling them so and that I wasn't interested, and then not leave until my husband and I both stared at him in confusion.

Or read about my incident in the comment I linked where a guy would not accept no for an answer when he wanted my phone number. I told him very bluntly no, and he still would not accept it. He tried to block my way onto the bus I needed to board, and I had to pretend to take his number down just to get on it.

Guys like that don't simply go away or take no for an answer. Nice guys will get the point well before it even escalates to that point where I would need to be cold. If it gets to the point where being cold is necessary, it almost never works.
posted by Nattie at 12:56 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


msalt: I don't know what point you and Sys Rq are trying so hard to make, but I sure don't see how attacking Kathryn T so repeatedly is helping the cause of reducing cat-calling.

I'm not attacking Kathryn; there's a difference between intense discussion and attack. Kathryn and I have taken some of this to MeMail, and I'm pretty sure neither of us would be continuing our discussion if K felt attacked, or if I intended in any way to attack her. But it is kind of you (I'm serious) to try to keep people from hammering one person in a thread. It can look like a pile-on when it isn't; I like that we watch out for one another in discussions.
posted by tzikeh at 12:58 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: Thank you for that. I am also being sincere, both on the particular and more generally. (IE, I think sometimes we get caught up in political correctness here and end up fighting each other instead of those who are the real problem. There have been idiots chiming in on previous similar discussions, but not much of that here.)

But yeah, exactly about the (appearance of) hammering. I have definitely been on the receiving end of that kind of intensity, and it sucks, but I also can get intense on a point and have tried to start backing away gracefully when I see myself going back and forth again and again with one person, to make sure I'm not doing that myself. Cheers!
posted by msalt at 1:33 AM on June 7, 2010


macross city flaneur: For what it's worth, I grew up in southwest Houston, in an area of town where you'd hear gunshots and glass breaking most nights, where our cars were broken into and crashed into so many times I lost count, where a guy drove a car through the apartment below my room, and where even toddlers would get abducted, raped, and murdered. I am not at all sheltered. For one thing, I think that environment probably hurt more than it helped when it comes to my perception of catcallers, because rapes were actually frequent in my area of town. I had more reason to imagine, correct or incorrect, that the catcallers might have violent intentions.

There is a huge difference between catcalling and panhandling. Panhandlers don't bother me at all; I assume that they ask for things for the sake of their own survival, and out of all the panhandlers I've ever encountered -- which is a ton, having lived in Houston, Austin, and Los Angeles; generally multiple panhandlers a day -- only one was ever an asshole about it, and that was this last week. It took that many years for me to ever even have a bad experience with one. Also, the panhandlers that act in socially inappropriate ways tend to actually be mentally ill, which is a lot easier to process and escape from than someone who targets you in particular and has the cognition necessary to follow you for blocks if he feels like it; it's easier to lose crazy people, though perhaps there are exceptions. I've also never feared that a panhandler was going to abduct me, because I guess while in theory he could, where would he take me? When panhandlers are aggressive, it usually lasts more than a minute and it's relatively easy to get away. When a guy wants to hassle a girl, he can drag it out as long as he wants and follow her as long as he wants. And some guys do just that.

I think you're assuming that women react poorly to catcalls because they're sheltered and don't know the spirit in which to take it. I react poorly to catcalls and the like because I have been nearly abducted four times, and because the catcalling has escalated into men calling me a bitch when I reject them and trying to block my ways to get away from them. I don't dislike catcalls because I'm sheltered, I dislike catcalls precisely because I'm not sheltered. Other women don't like it because they've been victims of sexual assault that started out with that kind of behavior, or else know women that have. And failing all that, women don't like it because it's dehumanizing. Say what you will about panhandlers, but if they get mad they can't generally make you feel dehumanized, both because you assume the aggressive ones are crazy and because their targets feel superior in at least a financial way; at worse you fear physical violence.

I just don't think there's any real comparison to make. I don't want to rag on you for trying to make the comparison, it just doesn't fit for a ton of reasons. A lot of times threads like this seem to have the underlying assumption that women are overreacting for some reason and men think women just don't "get it" or put it in the right perspective or something, but it's because women have actually, in reality, had terrible frightening experiences that inform their reactions. For that matter, if some people are reacting nervously to the panhandlers you might consider that they've had particularly bad, out-of-the-ordinary experiences with them and quit judging them for it. I'm really sympathetic to homeless people and go out of my way to help them when I can, but sometimes stuff does happen, especially because some of them are mentally ill, and you can't blame people for wariness. Scorn, maybe, but not wariness.

Also, I'm not really sure women can do anything like try to consider it a chance to engage with catcallers, like you can do with homeless people. You can engage with a homeless person even if you don't give them money; I've had conversations with them pretty easily. I can't imagine any way in which to engage with a catcaller in a positive manner, and lord knows I've tried. You either mistakenly send the signal that you're interested, or you get harassed more. They are not interested in getting to know you as a friend, either, whereas a homeless person might enjoy having someone to talk to. Trying to tell them not to do it, no matter how humanely and non-judgmentally you engage them, does not work. The whole "hey guys, let's turn this opportunity around and get to know each other" angle is just a no-go, and I'm not sure what other options there are. I don't mind getting to know homeless people. I do not want to get to know people who disrespect and degrade me before I've had a chance to say anything, and who aren't interested in anything else anyway.
posted by Nattie at 1:48 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


*it usually doesn't last more than a minute
posted by Nattie at 1:50 AM on June 7, 2010


Nattie, I'm not questioning any individual woman's experience, and I'm not a woman, so I obviously have no way of knowing what the general experience of women is with regard to catcalling.

However, I do know that in America we live with a culture of fear, and that fear has a history that is specifically bound up in questions of gender, race, AND class.

It's worth considering, for example, that at least part of the feeling of horror that (especially white, middle class) women feel at being called a "bitch" on the street is itself constructed by "white" patriarchy to limit their physical and social mobility. I sure don't wish name-calling on anyone, but is there a point at which the horror of being called a name does more damage than the name-calling itself? When the fear and not the act is actually the more destructive effect of patriarchy?

Again, I'm sure you are right to say that many many women's experiences with catcalling lead them to be justifably wary.

But it's also worth noting the statistics on stranger-rape and the way it is so often overestimated. Certainly catcalling is part of the rape culture in America, but to place so much emphasis on the horror of an experience that happens so much in the inner-city, in public, in the light of day, with people around, seems to me to be fraught with the race and class issues I mentioned.

It's a nuanced thing, but just the emphasis that catcalling is receiving here - over things like acquaintance rape, for example - seems to me to have a distasteful air of class and race consciousness about it to me. And it contributes to this broader culture of fear that seems so endemic in places like downtown Atlanta where I live. If you ride public transportation, you can see it in the eyes of the few white middle class anglo-europeans on the train, who so often sit silent, looking forward, posture frozen, while men and women of other ethnicities freely laugh and talk to each other. Is it because these non-white women are experiencing fewer catcalls?

I doubt it. There are other issues at play here.
posted by macross city flaneur at 2:13 AM on June 7, 2010


macross city flaneur, I can see some merit and a heap of good intentions in your comment, but trying to shift the focus from sexism to racism or classism isn't really helpful in addressing sexism, which is (partially) what this thread is about.

For example:

but just the emphasis that catcalling is receiving here

that's because that's what this thread is about. It's about a video-game where you can shoot catcallers. So, like, that's what people are talking about. Because it's the topic of the thread.

Something can be racist and classist and sexist - and it's still sexist. And maybe people still want to talk about the sexist bit?

And that's even presuming that the racist and classist parts even exist in the first place. Because it seems like you're reading that into the comments here, in this sort of abstract but-it-could-be-like-this way; but people aren't talking about abstract concepts, they're talking about pragmatic I've-actually-experienced-this scenarios. Trying to read some sort of potential latent prejudice into people's experiences is maybe an interesting thought experiment but not necessarily so helpful in the here and now?
posted by supercrayon at 2:43 AM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


It seems to me that in this thread, various kinds of evil/obnoxious males are being lumped together. There are introverts who form creepy long-term crushes on their associates, there are catcallers, and there are rapists.

But these are not necessarily the same people.

The creepy introvert probably isn't catcalling women on the street. It would break his vain self-image of Niceness. And suppose one responded favorably: he'd be kicked out of his cosy, effortless fantasy of unrequited love.

Educated, middle-class men mostly don't catcall. Not because they give a shit about the dignity of women, but because it would be like serving red wine with fish: it would mark them as being oblivious to the conventions of their class.

Some men, mostly working class, genuinely think appreciative catcalls are considered flattering. That doesn't mean they're necessarily rapists. If you start screaming, they're probably more likely to come to your assistance than the middle-class guy above, who wants to avoid embarrassment at all costs.

I don't think it's really accurate to lump in all the different kinds of male asshole together. There are lots of different ways for us to be assholes, so we specialize.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:19 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The idea of the game cracks me up. I have a hard time taking video game violence seriously, perhaps because I have little experience with it. But I think I'd like to have a go at the game, the same way I'd like to kick a football with a certain person's name on it or fantasize about disembowelling other commuters.

I think catcalling is far less common where I live. But here's the thing: The only phase where I got repeatedly catcalled and whistled at (and occasionally groped in public transport) was between the ages of 13 to 18. And I looked years younger than I actually was.
They targeted childen because it increased the power difference. It was devastating for me because it reinforced that my paedophiliac grandfather who abused me was not alone: They come in droves and their whoopings are socially accepted.
It all stopped when I turned adult and was less self conscious and felt less dirtied by the comments of strangers.

While catcalling is rare, I do get chatted up in less than desirable ways once in a while. I took to responding aggressively to any kind of sexual overture. It was the only thing that stopped the overture; as many women here have said, politeness does not work.
I remember actually smacking a man who brought his face up to mine, in kissing distance, while commenting my eyes. In the subway in broad daylight. He almost hit me back but got restrained by his friends. (I have since stopped using physical violence).
I remember losing my temper and screaming at someone obnoxious to LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE when I'm trying to read a book, and the guy beating a hasty retreat, also in the subway.

The downside of course is that I'm acting like a crazy harpy in public. On the other hand, I've stopped caring what a bunch of people on the street think of me. But a lot of women do care, do try to be polite and reasonable and fair, and they're getting a really crummy deal out of it.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:01 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The downside of course is that I'm acting like a crazy harpy in public.

That's my way of dealing with verbal harassment as well. Well that and I've somehow gained the ability to turn functionally deaf on cue whenever I hear something yelled out a car.

I like these two strips from Sinfest and I try to remember them whenever I get chatted/eyed up by some shady dude and feel bad: 1, 2
posted by supercrayon at 4:24 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


In my own scenario upthread where my daughter was being catcalled in front of me, the idiots didn't leave till they saw me dialing 911 on my cell phone. And then the chickenpoops BACKED UP their truck at a high rate of speed so I coudn't get their license. It's a wonder they didn't wreck.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:01 AM on June 7, 2010


"While the example of male-on-male intimidation could possibly suggest homophobia, there is no better way to explain the feeling of being terrified of a much bigger person's power over your body"

It's not even this. I'm not far of six foot, and I've still been in some uncomfortable situations because I didn't know if the guy shouting things at me had a knife or was better at fighting than I was at fighting back.

Hate to break it to you, but homophobia, which is not exactly rare, is precisely the inability to make that distinction.

A lot of the guys who did this kind of thing when I was a teenager (cf. a guy locking my friend in a toilet and telling her she wouldn't be let out until he was allowed to finger her) were very homophobic. Perhaps it's a machismo thing, I don't know. I can say that as someone who had an awkward adolescence, it was flattering for a split second and then it would get either tiresome or scary. It's the real-life equivalent to going on a chatroom and, if you had a gender-specific name, having messages pop up with explicit suggestions, except those people have a face, and are in front of you, and you don't know what they want.
posted by mippy at 5:10 AM on June 7, 2010


But here's the thing: The only phase where I got repeatedly catcalled and whistled at (and occasionally groped in public transport) was between the ages of 13 to 18. And I looked years younger than I actually was.

Yes, same here. People stopping the car and asking if you want a lift, or following you round a store.
posted by mippy at 5:18 AM on June 7, 2010


Revenge fantasies are so healthy!
posted by clvrmnky at 5:48 AM on June 7, 2010


please deter your friends from the sorts of behavior we talk about

To be honest, the comment that frames this request doesn't exactly scan as healthy social behavior, either. You describe feeling "trapped" by polite gestures and made "helpless" by compliments; you go to some lengths to prove that the social graces are being employed to checkmate you, and that many encounters are reduced to simple fight or flight. The mere possibility of a stranger's approach is a spike of anxiety. You mentally rehearse fight scenarios and killing blows and suggest - joking (and statistics) aside, apparently - that it would be unsurprising if you died with your hands around someone’s throat. You describe putting on a vest and tie like a kind of gendered armor. You implicate men in controlling your image, choosing your wardrobe, even guiding the fluctuations of your weight. That, too, is their fault.

It's not fair that you have to carry this warzone around with you, and it's also not fair to deposit it squarely in our court. And you might also consider (especially before purchasing weapons) whether other people have just as good a reason to be afraid of you as you are of them.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:56 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just want to comment to thank Nattie for her comments here, and in the other thread (which I missed at the time).

My experience of street harrassment has something in common with Nattie's, in that back when I appeared to be a guy I could basically do whatever I wanted at whatever time of night in the town in which I first lived alone. I was never attacked; I was never even bothered, and I did all sorts of stuff as a matter of course that would seem unfathomably reckless to me now: waiting alone at bus stops after dark, walking down deserted streets, meeting people after dark (what if they're late?!), and so on; even picking up hitch-hikers.

I actually think it was the hitch-hiker that drove it home to me how different this one aspect of my life was going to be after transition (uh, for clarity I should point out here that I'm a transsexual woman). It was before I "officially" transitioned, and I'd only been on HRT a few months so I was dressing to match, in unisex stuff. I also wasn't spectacularly self-aware, and didn't realise how much I'd changed, to look at and to be around. So anyway, I'm driving back to my house just outside of town and there's a hitch-hiker on the side of the road; without a second thought I pull over and pick him up and it turns out he's going to the same village I am (did he ask me where I was going before he told me his destination? I don't know; that only just occurred to me). I'm tired so after finding out where he wants to go and being minimally polite I'm just concentrating on driving. He talks animatedly about stuff that was on telly recently; I nod along. I distinctly remember volunteering some information about a zombie movie I'd seen recently. We keep going. I'd asked him to let me know where to turn off but he never tells me, and as we get closer to my house I start to think: uh-oh. My house was down a cul-de-sac with just a car park and the local train station at the other end, and if he's trying to find out where I live I'm not going to be able to just drive on past; I'm also not going to be able to just keep driving through the village because sooner or later I'm going to end up in the sea.

I ask him where he lives again. He tells me he's happy to walk from where I'm driving to. While yeah this could be totally genuine and innocent, by now enough alarm bells are ringing to get through a head that was raised as a guy in a tiny village in the south of england and which had up to that point only seen this kind of thing of TV. I spend a good minute panicking, and I'm thankful for the 30mph speed limit that's keeping me from running out of village while I think.

As I'm driving past the free car park that's about two-thirds of the way through the village I see a couple of families parking their cars there -- because of the train station parking on the streets was difficult and residents tended to use this large scrap of land instead -- and I pull in. I pull in very suddenly, without signalling, and park up. I tell him this is where I park most nights and get out, but he doesn't. I'm worried that the families will finish unpacking their stuff from their boots and leave the car park before I can lever him out of the car, so I tell him I've spotted a friend and I go over to the people and say something like, "I stupidly gave this guy a lift and now I can't get rid of him and I'm scared, can I pretend to be your friend to make him go away?" and they agree. I shout back to him something like, "Sorry I can't take you further but I'll be here a while; have a good night," and turn my back on him. My heart is absolutely fucking pounding at this point but then the dad of the family tells me he's got out of my car (no valuables in there but a stereo that's really a mono) and is walking off. They tell me I can stay and talk to them for a few minutes if I like, and I gratefully take them up on the offer.

I'll never pick up another hitch-hiker ever again. There's other stuff I could go into -- why would you just suddenly put your hand in someone's face in the middle of the street in broad daylight? why would you catcall someone who's limping? and no I will not fucking smile -- but the lunch break is over.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:57 AM on June 7, 2010 [16 favorites]


This problem was mentioned in some of the other threads we have had on the topic, but just to reiterate: the reason women are "nice" instead of aggressive (when just plain "assertive" has failed) is the very real risk of escalation. That going from "hey sweet baby" to "you stupid f****** c*** I'll f*** you in your c*** a** right now you whore bitch" in less than a second. When the size differential is large enough, that he could actually make good on that threat.
posted by availablelight at 6:10 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


...and in case anyone thinks that was a theoretical example, that was Thursday.
posted by availablelight at 6:13 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


To all the people whining that this unfortunate attitude of women makes meeting chicks harder for Painfully Shy Geek Boy (TM), I will say this:

First of all, play the game. With speakers. Walk down the street in broad daylight with a constant onslaught of "Hey baby I like your bounce" catcalls and people stepping in front of you. Shoot, because it's a game and hey, you actually can do something about those assholes.

Note, however, that if you let them get too close to you, you have no defence. You get blocked in by the cat callers and your machine gun goes through them, forcing you to be subject to abuse and really wishing you had a backup handgun.

Given that's the lay of the land, how invested are you in preserving the random guy who's merely muttering an inappropriate but non-threatening "God bless!"?

NOT VERY INVESTED.

Maybe the place to put the blame is not on women and their crappy attitude towards you, but on the catcalling fucktards who make what should be shared public space into a battleground where women need to don protective armour just to reach a bus stop.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:42 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be honest, the comment that frames this request doesn't exactly scan as healthy social behavior, either.

You are mistaking your lack of empathy and understanding for psychological insight.
posted by catchingsignals at 6:44 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


But here's the thing: The only phase where I got repeatedly catcalled and whistled at (and occasionally groped in public transport) was between the ages of 13 to 18. And I looked years younger than I actually was.

This was my experience growing up in Northern Europe, too: I got approached and harassed much more - and in more severe, threatening ways, such as a guy trying to force me into his car - when I was a young looking teenager (and I can't believe I feel the need to say this, but I wasn't a Hot Teen, but an awkward, ugly duckling looking much younger than my years). It didn't end, but definitely diminished when I wasn't quite as vulnerable, confused and defenseless a target anymore. I think this variety of harassers have a keen radar for picking people who don't know how to handle the situation, as opposed to someone who isn't afraid to slap the guy trying to grab her by the arms (been there) or pour her beer all over the head of the guy pinching her breasts (done that, and ran).

Not that I'm trying to put the onus on the receiving end of any of this crap. I know fully well from copious experience that there are also people who aren't deterred no matter how empowered a woman you are - since our gender already puts us in a vulnerable enough position - and also that in some situations, an aggressive response will just put you in more danger.

But random catcalling and openly sexist remarks targeted at strangers weren't really part of the culture I grew up in, so I was quite unprepared for the hell that broke loose when I moved to Southern Europe in my 20s. Honestly, I cannot fathom how those of you for whom this is a daily occurrence manage to deal with it - for me, the continuous sexual harassment everywhere I went was literally one of the main reasons I moved back North after a couple of years. Yes: I was willing to leave the country I'd thought I wanted to live in simply because of this.

The reality of it felt... just dehumanizing. I remember walking around, hearing the hisses and wolf whistles and "chupa chupa, loira"s and screaming inside my head: I'm a PERSON, goddammit!

And no, there was nothing I could do to stop it. It's been years since I moved on, but I have no doubt there were moments when playing a shooter game like the one in the FPP would've felt cathartic.

I now live in a progressive, egalitarian Western European country and often have a kid or two in tow, so I rarely encounter any kind of harassment, and when someone catcalls, it's never threatening or degrading. Embarrassing and annoying? Sure. But not dangerous. Then again, I've also internalized the restrictions, such as all the places I simply won't go unaccompanied, at least after dark.

It does bum me out to think the day will come when I'll have to start preparing my daughters for this part of Life As A Female Human Being.
posted by sively at 7:49 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's worth considering, for example, that at least part of the feeling of horror that (especially white, middle class) women feel at being called a "bitch" on the street is itself constructed by "white" patriarchy to limit their physical and social mobility.

Street harassment is not a "middle-class white woman's fear". Women of color, poor women, and all variations and intersections thereof also have plenty of experience with the dehumanizing power play that is "catcalling". I'm sorry, but that comment just seems bizarre to me. I don't really have anything but instinct and experience to back this up, but I'd wager that women of color and poor women are actually more likely to experience street harassment.

I sure don't wish name-calling on anyone, but is there a point at which the horror of being called a name does more damage than the name-calling itself? When the fear and not the act is actually the more destructive effect of patriarchy?


You don't really seem to know anything about this so your theorizing comes off as ill-informed. The "horror at being called a name"? That calls to mind dainty women getting the vapors at the thought of some man getting a little shirty. Where does this idea come from, this idea that women don't know how to deal with angry confrontation because we are too afraid to experience it? Women experience male violence and power plays regularly. We aren't protected from it, we're just seen as the natural targets to be put in our place. Male dominance is viewed as rightful and normal, so it's not like society is encouraging women to go out of their way to avoid it.

With regard to street harassment, I don't think most women would even give voice to all of the annoyance and sometimes fear that they experience. Before I came to Metafilter I always thought it was normal and my reaction was the problem.
posted by Danila at 8:00 AM on June 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


"The mere possibility of a stranger's approach is a spike of anxiety."

This is what happens in a society which believes that instead of telling men not to rape and attack, we can better solve the problem by telling women not to wear short skirts, wear that low neckline on a hot day, drink alcohol, take the bus at night, or walk home alone.
posted by mippy at 8:13 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow. Is this the first FPP about a game using the Unity Plugin that hasn't devolved into people bitching about the Unity Plugin?
posted by brundlefly at 8:18 AM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


The "horror at being called a name"? That calls to mind dainty women getting the vapors at the thought of some man getting a little shirty. Where does this idea come from, this idea that women don't know how to deal with angry confrontation because we are too afraid to experience it? Women experience male violence and power plays regularly.

Well, Victorian values are exactly what I was trying to bring into question. The fact is, there's a long history of males exaggerating the threat of being on the street to white upper and middle class women. Judith Walkowitz' "City of Dreadful Delight" is devoted to the phenomenon during the era of Jack the Ripper. This as a means to control women.

I do think it's worth asking whether the western European sense of the "threat" involved in being on the street is exaggerated.

I say this as someone who has basically always seen Grand Theft Auto as a "white male middle class revenge engine". With "Hey Baby!" it seems we very much do have a female equivalent. A game that allows for a certain kind of revenge fantasy that is fraught with race/class resentment.

This is not to minimize or derail the gender-based power issues, but simply to add that such power issues are, in fact, always intertwined with other power issues in our society.

Women of color, poor women, and all variations and intersections thereof also have plenty of experience with the dehumanizing power play that is "catcalling".

No one's questioning whether they experience it, or whether they experience it negatively, but it would still be interesting to hear their perspective on what it means to them/how it affects them. As one of the links from the Schroedinger's Rapist thread noted, catcalling can have different connotations in different cultures.
posted by macross city flaneur at 8:38 AM on June 7, 2010


Educated, middle-class men mostly don't catcall.

Ahahahahahahaha. For that to be true, there have to be a lot of uneducated, lower-class men driving BMWs and Mercedes in the financial district, let me tell you.
posted by KathrynT at 9:32 AM on June 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


macross city flaneur, how many abductions and violent episodes following escalations of catcalling should a woman have to endure before she comes to the conclusion that the threat is real? Or, perhaps more to the point, before YOU will come to the conclusion that the threat is real?
posted by KathrynT at 9:49 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread is exactly what I expected it to be.
posted by hincandenza at 10:23 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's awesome, hincandenza. Thanks for letting us know.
posted by rtha at 10:43 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's awesome, hincandenza. Thanks for letting us know.

Well, it was a cool story.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:15 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This game is awesome for all the reasons that Hothead Paisan is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

As for this:
the western European sense of the "threat" involved in being on the street is exaggerated.

I don't know about western Europe, but in the San Francisco Bay Area, it doesn't feel exaggerated.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:51 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


small_ruminant: clearly, the game needs a patch where you can hit the 'taunt' button and your character yells "I'M NOT YOUR FUCKING SPRITZ-HEAD GIRLFRIEND!" at the assailant.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:17 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


macross city flaneur, how many abductions and violent episodes following escalations of catcalling should a woman have to endure before she comes to the conclusion that the threat is real?

Zero, obviously. But in what does "reality" consist in this sense, and how does one balance one's sense of the reality of the threat with one's reaction to the threat and level of generalized dread?

Sorry to go to this example. I realize it's politically fraught. But it's the one that immediately springs to mind. How many 9/11s do we have to undergo, a terrorism hawk might argue, before we come to the conclusion that the terror threat is "real"?

Certainly it is real, but one's response to that threat must be measured and proportional. Living one's life in fear can lead to very undesirable consequences. And we should recognize the way it plays into a culture of fear that is as dehumanizing as any threat of violence.
posted by macross city flaneur at 12:19 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


That, too, is their fault.

Admittedly, there were moments, reading Nattie's comment, when I thought to myself, "that doesn't sound so threatening". Until it clearly became threatening later, and I was reminded once again that every woman I know has had to develop such a finely-honed danger sense that they can hear the implicit weirdness well before it becomes apparent to me. That's not me talking about "feminine intuition" or some bullshit, that's the effect of living constantly in the warzone you name.

I have enough personal and second-hand experience with things like PTSD to know that the world is full of triggers, because the world is full of physical and psychic harm, and so I am no longer surprised when seemingly-innocuous comments or actions disturb the shallow grave of a person's pain. It sucks that that doesn't surprise me anymore; it seems like it'd be a better world if that were instead unusual.

My problem with your comment, though, is that it suggests that you are not also living in that warzone until someone like Nattie draws you in, unwillingly, and exposes you to an unnatural harm. You live there too; it's your world also. Just because you are not occasionally subject to all of its dangers does not mean you are therefore exempt from the human responsibility of ameliorating harm where you can, or that you are entitled to dismiss those concerns that do not directly impact you as therefore irrelevant.

You correctly perceive that we are all in part responsible for creating a reality in which Nattie's experience is first the exception and then impossible, and then you transform that responsibility into an assignation of blame and a divestment of authority. In effect, you see a person wounded by the war and accuse them of not trying to be more unwounded and less in the war. That seems to me to be futile at best and malignant at worst.
posted by Errant at 12:21 PM on June 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I might be late to the party and maybe somebody else has already addressed this stuff up about here between Sys Rq and KathrynT about the homophobia thing, but as I was reading along I had a little epiphany.

I think the reason that gay panic exists is that ever so occasionally, men get a glimpse of what the threat of rape is. In other words, there's no way for KathrynT to get her point across without it turning into fear of gay rape, because it's precisely the fear that a man might not be protected by male privilege in a given situation that makes him freak about homosexuality in the first place.

Does that make sense?
posted by Michael Roberts at 12:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Certainly it is real, but one's response to that threat must be measured and proportional.

It seems to me that this is another way of describing women's reactions to their own experience as "irrational", which seems to me to be another way in which men co-opt women's experience and impose their own dominant perception on both the act and the response. That may not be what you mean to say, macross city flaneur, but it recalls those sorts of marginalizations.
posted by Errant at 12:25 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


The fact is, there's a long history of males exaggerating the threat of being on the street to white upper and middle class women.
And yet these threads are always full of women talking about actual threats they experienced... Are you suggesting we're all hallucinating our experiences based on male propoganda?
posted by Karmakaze at 12:28 PM on June 7, 2010


I do think it's worth asking whether the western European sense of the "threat" involved in being on the street is exaggerated.

I suppose there must be contexts in which such a pitifully ignorant question is worthwhile, but this thread is certainly not one of them.

It makes me wonder how well you could possibly know even the women in your life, if there are any.

Every girlfriend I've ever had has been catcalled, of course, and two thirds have been grabbed, most of the time as part of an attempt to drag them away somewhere. One woman has been grabbed at least a dozen times.

And those incidents have weird psychological aftermaths, too. I lived with my first girlfriend most of the way through college, and one Friday night she and my best high school friend and his date went to a rock concert (the Moody Blues?) in Denver (we lived in Boulder) without me because I was taking the GRE the next morning. They came back to their car in the very poorly lit lot after most of the traffic had cleared, and during a moment when he and his date were on the driver's side, and my girlfriend (5' 10" and blond) was on the passenger's side, some guy came leaping out of a van nearby and grabbed her around the neck from behind and began pulling her toward the van. As I could have warned him if I'd been there, it wasn't the smartest move he could have made: she rammed her elbow into his diaphragm, tromped on his instep, spun out of his grip and in a continuation of the spin, delivered a full roundhouse kick to the side of his jaw. Knowing how immensely powerful she was and how fast, I can't help wincing in very strange and unwelcome sympathy as I write this.

He dropped like a sack of rocks and did not move at all. My girlfriend then crouched down and jerked his head off the ground by the hair, and said into his ear in a low voice that made my friend's hair stand on end "don't mess with me, fucker." According to my friend, the guy still had not moved as they backed out of their slot and drove away.

This is all according to my friend the first chance I got to talk to him about three weeks later. He was still pretty freaked out about it and worried that she might have broken the guy's neck.

The odd thing is, that was the first inkling I had that anything untoward had happened at the concert. When I went to her in amazement, she had no real explanation for me, and I don't understand to this day why she didn't tell me.

But I've come to accept her almost reflexive concealment as consistent with the way women typically react to these incidents.
posted by jamjam at 12:49 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


macross city flaneur, I suppose what I don't understand is where you get the idea that it is men implanting this fear into women. Speaking out against street harassment is revolutionary. Most men don't even seem to be aware that it is a problem, and in a society that privileges the viewpoints of men, that means street harassment is not coded as "harassment" at all, but rather, "compliments" and "flirtiness" gone slightly wrong. At Metafilter we've already had a long conversation about this which informs some of the reactions to this game, but I think the dominant social understanding of this harassment is that women are wrong if they have a problem with it. Incidentally, the first time Metafilter discussed this topic, that was the overwhelming perspective.

Rather than conditioning women to "fear catcalling", society has been conditioning them to accept it. At worst, it's "boys will be boys".

Living one's life in fear can lead to very undesirable consequences.

Look, I'm sorry, but I can't really address the "living one's life in fear" canard. Most of the victims of male violence are other men, and men carry weapons, learn martial arts, learn complex social rituals, and practice appropriate "bar room etiquette" in order to address the very legitimate threat. Nobody says men are living in fear when they take these measures. Yet women are supposedly irrational and incapable of conducting threat assessment, so must be terrorized by their own weak minds. At best, we should expect men to take care of us, to walk with us, to make other men back off. But if we want to do something as simple as play a stupid cathartic little game all of a sudden we're engaging in dangerous revenge fantasies and "living in fear".

it would still be interesting to hear their perspective on what it means to them/how it affects them

Well first of all, I am one. I like this short video by a woman of color on street harassment as she experiences it, you might be interested.
posted by Danila at 12:52 PM on June 7, 2010 [17 favorites]


There are a couple of threads on this on the Rock Paper Shotgun forum. I've had to walk away from them after some guy kept saying that a) if women learnt ninja skills this would not be a problem b) domestic violence is the fault of the victim for staying, and them not fighting back is part of the problem.
posted by mippy at 1:02 PM on June 7, 2010


"I'M NOT YOUR FUCKING SPRITZ-HEAD GIRLFRIEND!"

Oddly, what really brought Hothead Paisan to mind was Fizz's condescending lecture on what women's "non-patriarchal" response ought to be.

DiMassa addressed that in response to a reader's similar complaint but I can't find a copy of it online, though it's referred to here.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:13 PM on June 7, 2010


And yet these threads are always full of women talking about actual threats they experienced... Are you suggesting we're all hallucinating our experiences based on male propoganda?

No, and I think that if this game has brought attention to the prevalence of catcalling and the effects it has on women, it is definitely very worthwhile.

However, we can certainly be subtly conditioned to have different levels and kinds of reactions, and even in person, people can see and experience things very differently.

I recently was in the car with someone I consider a friend when we were given a routine traffic ticket. The cop was a little bit accusatory/aggressive, and my friend thought a great injustice had been done. I did not see it that way, and I was there. It seemed like a routine stop and routine cop behavior to me. Behavior I had myself experienced many times before.

Much later, I heard my friend describe the "dumb black cop" that had wronged her, and I have to say that I was pretty shocked. Not only that, but I realized that there were race (and possibly gender) issues in play I had no idea were present at the time. This friend considers herself politically liberal and definitely not a racist.

Now I wonder if the intensity of my friend's reaction was grounded in white privelege, and whether the police officer's position of authority galled my friend so much because he was black. I have no idea if she has had past negative experiences with police, or with black police in particular. I do know that my own experience and her experience of an event we both witnessed was very different.

Other "white" friends and acquaintances, again people who consider themselves politically liberal, will come to visit me in downtown Atlanta, and their palpable level of discomfort and anxiety at being in my neighborhood will surprise me time and again.
posted by macross city flaneur at 1:15 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly, but sounds as if you're accusing the white, upper-er class women of being uncomfortable because they don't experience the same level of abuse that lower-er class women of other races experience.

I would be interested in seeing a cite for that, but even if it's true, it says less about the classism of the upper class and more about how much more it sucks to be female and less privileged. I doubt anyone would have a big argument against that. The more "less enfranchised" strikes you have against you, the worse your life will be, as a generalization.

However, I'm still not clear on what your point is in regard to this video game or verbal harassment against women as a whole.

This may be my bias, but it sounds a little like the divide-and-conquer that has been used against the disenfranchised since the dawn of time. As in, you might have it rough, but if you fight it, you could end up having it as bad as THEM.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:37 PM on June 7, 2010


I can't really address the "living one's life in fear" canard. Most of the victims of male violence are other men, and men carry weapons, learn martial arts, learn complex social rituals, and practice appropriate "bar room etiquette" in order to address the very legitimate threat. Nobody says men are living in fear when they take these measures. Yet women are supposedly irrational and incapable of conducting threat assessment, so must be terrorized by their own weak minds.

I mistrust men's "threat assessment" far more than women's, especially young men, especially in bars, and especially white middle class men when they are in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

And no doubt everyone's level of feeling of threat is conditioned by their own personal experiences.

But let me tell you my own personal experience with people who "carry weapons and learn martial arts" to address the "very legitimate threats" that they perceive. My experience in every case is that those people are precisely very bad at managing the "complex social rituals" that govern human behavior in public places, especially when they are in places that they don't know very well.

My experience with such people is exclusively male, but in every physical confrontation I've been witness to (5), the kind of people who "carry weapons and learn martial arts" have escalated a situation that seemed very likely to have remained non-violent.

Of course, that's just my experience, but it's as valid as anyone's experience.
posted by macross city flaneur at 1:45 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


upper-er class women of being uncomfortable because they don't experience the same level of abuse that lower-er class women of other races experience

That's not my point. It may be yours.

My point is that different women and different cultures may experience what we're calling catcalling differently, and that class and race issues definitely play a role in conditioning our experience of spontaneous street encounters in our own culture. I can't claim to know if and how it may have played a role in the many anecdotes that have been recounted by women on this site and others, but I have seen the marked affects of subtle racism and classism on the behavior of middle class whites in my own city, and their consequent perception of the number and severity of threats around them.
posted by macross city flaneur at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2010


Also, @danila, that's a great video. Thanks.
posted by macross city flaneur at 2:05 PM on June 7, 2010


does this game provide empowerment for women?

Here's one way it does: it treats female fantasies and female anger as a legitimate market force. In a capitalist society, trying to sell to something acknowledges that it exists.

I'd call that empowerment of a kind.
posted by Kit W at 2:15 PM on June 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


macross city flaneur, perhaps you have been subtly conditioned to react to the thought of how much sexism there is against women by looking left, looking right, up down and everywhere else, but never directly at it. Perhaps it is your privilege, since you brought it up, that allows you to idly wonder about whether women's fears are justified, and bury their very real and painful experiences in your "culture of fear" thesis?

You have brought up one example after another (sheltered and insecure people's reaction to panhandlers, your friend's racism, the middle-class whites in your own city...) who know not what they perceive, and react incorrectly in your view to the world around them. Help me understand what you are saying: who, in the situations described by the many women in this and the Schrödinger’s Rapist thread, do you think needs to change? Where are you placing the responsibility - on the women? Or the men? Do those experiences add up to a world of intimidation and dehumanization of women - or do they not quite do it for you? And are women justified in feeling that they have to be on guard so much of the time - or do you have some advice on how they should change their experience of this "culture of fear"?
posted by catchingsignals at 3:29 PM on June 7, 2010


You are mistaking your lack of empathy and understanding for psychological insight.

Totally. Had I an empathy bone, it would have been struck exactly at the part where we were face-stabbing the strange anonymous man on the subway; instead the point flew right through my tender side.

Am I that man on the subway? Am I a Schroedinger's Rapist; a probability space that only thought it was a man? An abandoned suitcase that might be a live bomb? Or maybe I'm a Schroedinger's Terrorist - do I dress like one? Religion like one? Do I look like I don't quite belong on this airplane? This train? Like I shouldn't be inquiring, sphinx-like, why we're all holding the DaVinci Code like a fucking riot-shield against mankind, our eyes locked in some pattern of evasive action? Am I a Schroedinger's Mugger if I ask you to just give me the time? Am I limestone for a human pyramid? I was just stooping to touch my shoe. I was just stooping to light this match. I'm sorry. I am admittedly a stranger.
posted by kid ichorous at 6:26 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


@catchingsignals, when a catcall is clearly a catcall, I think there can be no doubt that the whole and total responsibility lies with the offender, and indeed, I would agree that in those cases "responsibility" is the key issue. Many of the anecdotal examples given here and elsewhere rise to a level of clear onerousness that a broad swath of people would agree is inappropriate and oppressive. The things said, the insistence of the behavior or the character of the behavior (cornering, touching, following, etc).

However, there is also a huge less clear area where there would be disagreement as to what constitutes catcalling, and where one's personal experiences and preferences play a bigger role than norms and obvious social standards, no matter how widely applied and respected.

Even comments on, for instance, physical appearance can have wide room for intepretation and are subject to both the speaker and the complimentee's understanding of one another's intentions, the variability of communication skills, and simple good will. Inflection and context count for a lot. An otherwise "harmless" comment can be made in such a way that it is highly threatening. And a clear wisecrack can be done in a spirit of relatively charming innocence. Our ability to see and respond to these subtle differences in context is what makes us human.

With regard to this more ambiguous kind of situation, the chief issue, then, is understanding, and not responsibility, or we might say we all have a responsibility to try to understand, respect, and communicate with one another.

Where norms are not clear and established, people need to give one another the benefit of the doubt, I think, or we begin to become a society incapable of building and enjoying a robust public sphere. Indeed, in many ways, we are incapable, with our urban centers only now, half a century after the civil rights movement, coming to be shared by both whites and blacks, rich and poor (and even now, with whites returning to cities in ever greater numbers, "urban renewal" is still the norm and not the exception).

But beyond the benefit of the doubt, many of the posters have made it seem that a possible "solution" to this problem is that strangers should never speak in public. This, to me, is a horrifying fascistic possibility that we are unfortunately already close to because of basic American habits. I walk down the street and see (especially white) people so closed off to communication as they walk through the city, so paralyzed by fear, that it makes my head spin. Outside of their power-projecting SUVs and high rise office buildings, they are like nervous rabbits. Where is all this fear coming from? Why has it so come to dominate public social relations in our society? What is the cost of all this fearfulness? What are its true sources in our politics and in power relations?

The fact is, if we could all agree on the standards of behavior of men toward women, and if contextual factors never mattered, this really would be a simple issue. But one of my greatest sources of discomfort with this thread is the frequent pretense that we can ever do that. The far tougher cases to deal with are those that are more ambiguous, and there are a lot of those cases. And basic differences in social norms and preferences are a huge part of what continues to divide us in America, along class, ethnic and "racial" lines.

I do believe we live in a society that is highly oppressive for women, but I also believe we live in a society where everyone seems to feel that leading with their outrage will solve our social problems. It won't. It won't for men, and it won't for women. It won't for Tea Partiers, and it won't for Progressives.

Finally, I just want to say that part of what makes catcalling an "appealing" problem, in a certain sense, is that it seems relatively easy to solve. Easy, I say, when you consider that so much sexual violence is committed by those who never give any cue as to their cruel intentions before acting. The real source of dread for many women on this issue comes from that unpredictibility. So yes, it feels good to take revenge on catcallers in a video game - not just because they deserve it - but because they represent a relatively public, identifiable, kind of menace. I would hate to think, however, that the intensity of our ire over the far more serious and difficult issue of rape, would be transferred onto an activity that is easier to comprehend and address.

This would be classic scapegoating.

The scapegoating would be particularly tragic because it would have the desirable side effect (for those in the white male power establishment) of focusing attention away from their own perpetuation of the worst elements of patriarchy onto a classes of people they already want to marginalize and divide from their core constituencies.
posted by macross city flaneur at 6:32 PM on June 7, 2010


Macross, I like your name.

Taking all comers, eh?
posted by ServSci at 6:45 PM on June 7, 2010


But beyond the benefit of the doubt, many of the posters have made it seem that a possible "solution" to this problem is that strangers should never speak in public.

Because no one has even come close to suggesting this as a solution to the problem, this statement serves two purposes: to set up an obviously extreme and undesirable condition as the default mode proposed by your dissenters; and to make your interpretations of others' statements the center of the discussion -- this is where the word "seem" comes in. No one can argue with how a statement or proposal "seemed" to you, right?

You're quick to identify the projections of paralytic fear into discourse. I would suggest that you fear that this is what people are saying, that no one should talk to anyone. Let me set your mind at ease: no one is saying that, no one is suggesting it, no one is thinking it. So fear not, and let's put this particular bugbear to rest.

Anyone can talk to anyone. What people should not do is impose their own will on others. The kinds of oppressive discourse that women are describing in this thread, and elsewhere, are not and never were attempts at communication, which can only happen between equals. They are attempts to utilize power disparity in order to assert the speaker's dominance and subdue their subject. Some people have said that the ubiquity of these attempts causes them to fear reflexively any attempts at conversation; that's unfortunate, but it's not scapegoating. It's survival, it's operant conditioning. If you lived somewhere where random passersby periodically fired guns in your direction, would it be scapegoating to flinch when you see someone walking towards you with their hand in their jacket? To cross the street? To stay inside?

I appreciate that you're worried about how the degenerate behavior of catcalling colors and mars any communication between men and women. I think you're right to be worried about that. But you're basically asking women to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of an oppression so widespread and ubiquitous that it is practically invisible to many people, just the way that things are, and I don't think that's the right thing to do. Outrage may well be indecorous and not a great way to approach a conversation between equals, but there's nothing equal about this conversation. When it is, maybe then you'll have a point, but we have a long way to go yet.
posted by Errant at 7:22 PM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


no one has even come close to suggesting this as a solution to the problem

Yes, to do so directly would be pretty laughable, wouldn't it?

But let's consider some excerpts from the Schroedinger's Rapist post.

This means that some men should never approach strange women in public. Specifically, if you have truly unusual standards of personal cleanliness, if you are the prophet of your own religion, or if you have tattoos of gang symbols or Technicolor cockroaches all over your face and neck, you are just never going to get a good response approaching a woman cold.

Here we have the poster telling men that if they look a certain way, they should never approach women. Most of these are intended as humorous thus there is a certain ambiguity about them. But this is what makes them so sinister and ultimately suggestive that no contact between men and women is appropriate. After all, you might look like the kind of man who threatens the woman with whom you're about to speak. Do you see why this kind of open-endedness is suggestive to men that zero communication is always best?

She's giving men the responsibility of knowing in advance that their personal appearance might threaten someone. Tattoos? Check. How about if you're black? Or especially tall? We don't know what she thinks, but we can certainly guess that someone, somewhere, might find these things threatening. Frankly, I read this as a transparent mystification of racial prejudice. "If you're black, realize that you probably scare me!" Of course, no one is allowed to say this directly, so it is coded behind ambiguous "obvious" standards of what is threatening.

You see how we're moving toward zero interaction?

Next we have the poster saying that if someone is not looking at you, you shouldn't speak to them. This describes the vast majority of people I see in public places, especially white people in groups of non-white people. Which tells me they never want to be spoken to in public. And guess what? Most of the time, they aren't.

You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really.

One of the greatest acts of behaviorist gamesmanship to be observed in the urban center is that poor people so often look at you. Right at you. It's one of the few powers they have in their own space. But it's also a reaction to the way the middle class visitors to their environment so often never look at them. Seeing poor people means recognizing their humanity.

You advocate that no one should "impose their will" on others, which sounds fine in the absract, but every public conversation is an imposition. Asking the time is an imposition, which is precisely how a Victorian gentleman might phrase the question, especially to a young woman. "I don't mean to impose miss, but do you have the time?"

Again, in your mind, the difference between "imposing" and "non-imposing" speech is clear. But in reality it isn't. That's why so much of the tone of this thread "seemed" to suggest to me that men and women don't speak at all. Because creating abstract general rules for behavior based on the pretense that things like "imposition" actually equates to a blanket warning never to interact.

The price of this kind of pretense not only might be that people in our society stop speaking to each other in public. From where I stand the damage is mostly already done.

Again, I think it is horrible for women to have to go through their daily lives in fear of being catcalled, but when I see a street performer or a panhandler walk up to a middle class gentleman on the street and have the gall to speak to him, I smile, because I think to myself, "My God, this is one of the last vestiges of humane interaction between classes in public. That guy is completely imposing on that other guy. Bless him. Bless him!"

Gender inequality, as utterly absolutely justifiably terrible as it is, is still not the only inequality in our society. The reason I have a point now is because your simple characterization of catcalling as an aggressive behavior performed by someone in a superior power position against someone in an inferior power position is quite simplistic. In many, if not most, cases, men who are catcalling are all too aware of their relative powerlessness in the face of the women they harrass. That's why they do it. They feel weak. And the source of that weakness is often economically and racially constructed.
posted by macross city flaneur at 8:08 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


You see how we're moving toward zero interaction?

Yes, it's possible to view any curtailing or abridgement of interaction as a "movement towards zero". That seems incredibly reductive, though, as does your movement of "tattoos of gang symbols or Technicolor cockroaches" to just "tattoos". We both agree this is hyperbole, no harm there, and I do take your point that knowing oneself to be "threatening" is a difficult and possibly intractable proposition. I also agree that codes of classism and racism may lurk beneath the surface of a given person's fear of the unknown, but I don't share your willingness to assume those characteristics as a fait accompli.

I was apparently not clear enough with my use of the word "imposition", so let me try again. You view all unsolicited conversation as "imposition" of a kind and, therefore, rankle at the suggestion that impositions be eliminated, because you see that as covertly eliminating the formation of human connections. But what women are describing here, and I want to stick to what women are describing and not my own theories of connective discourse, are not questions of minor infraction. In the other thread, a woman told her story of being asked for something, I think a lighter, and then when she turned to hand it to him the man assaulted her. It's an extreme (but, sadly, much too real) example, but surely no one thinks that it was the question that was the problem. Do you really find no difference at all between asking a question and becoming hostile at the subsequent response, between asking someone the time and screaming at them until they are reduced to nothing but sexual objects? You think these are essentially all of a piece, "impositions" that only vary by degree, and to find harm in one is to condemn all of them transitively?

You seem to be espousing direct interaction as a reclamation of power and humanity. There are instances where I can agree with you. Where I can't agree is this:

In many, if not most, cases, men who are catcalling are all too aware of their relative powerlessness in the face of the women they harrass.... And the source of that weakness is often economically and racially constructed.


I know that you are not excusing catcalling behavior here, but you are attempting to justify it as a reaction to a different kind of oppression, thereby weighing sexism vs. classism vs. racism. That doesn't work for me, intersectional though I often am. A construction worker catcalling a businesswoman on the street is not striking a soldierly blow for class equality. He may well be acting out of a sense of class inferiority, but he is escaping his inferiority by calling on the mode in which he has the power and the ability to oppress, the ability to possess and diminish, and that can't be right or justifiable.

I'm a little worried about us usurping this conversation, so I'll end here by saying: at least we both agree, these men are cowards, Donny.
posted by Errant at 8:47 PM on June 7, 2010


That's why so much of the tone of this thread "seemed" to suggest to me that men and women don't speak at all. Because creating abstract general rules for behavior based on the pretense that things like "imposition" actually equates to a blanket warning never to interact.

No one is advocating rules. People have offered [please note, from this one: "we're taught from day one that we can never have the simple expectation of being safe - we're told to not go out at night, to not dress a certain way, to not drink too much, to carry weapons like pepper spray, etc. And when we do these things we're accused of "living in fear"; when we don't do them, we're accused of not being careful enough."] suggestions re things to keep in mind if men wish to engage civilly with women on the street who are complete strangers. If you haven't had time to read much of that previous thread, and you go back to it, you will find many of your arguments addressed there. People may have been less enthusiastic about repeating those suggestions in this thread because they already put so much into the previous one on the blue. And, again, on the grey.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:38 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Missed a couple.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:47 PM on June 7, 2010


Gender inequality, as utterly absolutely justifiably terrible as it is, is still not the only inequality in our society.

No one's saying it's the only inequality. I get what you say about historical and present-day racist patriarchal systems inculcating, as a social control mechanism, fear of non-white and/or lower-classed men in middle-class white women. Othering those men as predators and criminals, violent, bestial. anitanita in one of the previous threads mentioned her personal experience with this. Yes, it's a serious issue.

On the other hand, anecdotes in these threads show that the catcalling and other harassment so commonly and quickly escalates from verbal threats to physical, that I think it's clear these particular stories are not inspired by the abstract, groundless culture of fear that you're talking about. They're describing real sequences of events that have repeatedly happened.

In many, if not most, cases, men who are catcalling are all too aware of their relative powerlessness in the face of the women they harrass. That's why they do it. They feel weak. And the source of that weakness is often economically and racially constructed.


"Many," ok. Not "most," agreed, because IME as a non-white woman, middle-class white guys certainly commonly do it, and of course it's standard for guys of particular groups to catcall and harass the women within their groups. As for "relative powerlessness," that may hold in some contexts. Not in the immediate, interminable moments when a woman's creep-dar is going off like an air raid siren but every choice of action is problematic.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:48 PM on June 7, 2010


In many, if not most, cases, men who are catcalling are all too aware of their relative powerlessness in the face of the women they harrass. That's why they do it. They feel weak.

Whoa whoa whoa. Feeling weak and being weak are two totally different things.

You're assuming, first, that catcalling is largely done by poor men to rich women. Ain't so, or at least not in my experience: socially privileged men do it just as much. You're also talking as if there's only one kind of power. In the context of sexual harassment, physical strength is the leveller men are using, and on the street, that's the kind of strength that counts. No woman is going to feel safe against it, however upper-class she is. Trust me, 'Well, if he rapes me I can afford a kick-ass lawyer to prosecute him' is not a very comforting thought.


Because creating abstract general rules for behavior based on the pretense that things like "imposition" actually equates to a blanket warning never to interact.

I think it's reasonable to assume an implied audience, and the implied audience, based on the tone and the fact that it's an Internet advice article, is a man with limited understanding of female experience and not particularly brilliant social skills. That's someone who needs some very basic maxims to abide by, because an overly complex and nuanced set of guidelines is going to be beyond his ability to navigate.

If someone does have good social skills, they can work the exceptions to basic rules without making anyone feel threatened. But saying this in an article addressed to the socially unskilled is a bad idea because of unconscious incompetence: there's always someone who thinks, 'Great, I've read the article, now I can skip the basics and get on to the advanced stuff' - and winds up making people nervous by trying to do stuff they don't have the skills to pull off. Some people need things spelled out very simply.

I think you're putting too much emphasis on the 'Some men should never approach women', which is clearly humorous hyperbole, and an aside at that. Most of what she's saying is 'Let the woman decide whether she's going to talk to you,' and that's hardly a culture of isolation: it's a culture of mutual consent. It's only going to isolate men no woman would ever want to talk to, and if no woman ever wants to talk to a man, that's more about him than about society.
posted by Kit W at 1:21 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The most overt examle of socially privileged white men who engage in catcalling is male college undergraduates.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:15 PM on June 8, 2010


Jesus, people. Men from all socio-economic and racial strata make catcalls.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that was the point- catcalling is not limited to the lower classes trying to even the class disparity, which I believe was one of the arguments made earlier.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:35 PM on June 8, 2010


You know, by now, I know enough to know that I won't get it. I haven't lived the thirty-six years of my life in the social role of a woman, and thus I'm not going to know what it's like, and even my most empathetic musings most likely won't get me there.

I think I have even gotten as far as to understand why the "'nice' guys are creepy" meme exists and seems to have picked up steam over the past few years.

It's basically because 'nice' guys suffer from two problems.

First, we don't have enough control of the turnwheel on the valve. If sexual desire is pressurized steam, we turn the turnwheel and let out far too big a blast of steam than appropriate -- and we don't have the best handle on when is an appropriate time, and when is an inappropriate time, to turn that turnwheel.

Second, I think 'nice' guys fail to think of the salesmanship question. We are often all too familiar with the minute details of our own desires -- what specifics or what broader stereotypes we like -- but very often there's an utter unawareness of what package we present to the outsider not only in our appearance and particular demographic statistics, but in we perform each action.

I found it disheartening in this game that "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you're beautiful" was as equally murderworthy as "I want to blow your back out", though.

Now, mind you, I understand why the former isn't a good pick-up line. For one thing, if you happen to want to compliment someone, compliment something they have control over, not something inherently merely genetic and inheritable. For the other, while I still don't claim to "get it", I think I can at least imagine-get why having a complete stranger approach me on the street to that extent would still be enough to make my shields go up, especially if their first choice is to compliment my physicality with high-impact words. Plus, I think I can imagine-get how men do the Jekyll-and-Hyde thing makes each "pleasantry" a danger situation.

Still, speaking as a guy who is not aggressive, I have to admit, the hostility of this new "nice guys are creepy" meme -- well, I still find it particularly fucked up.

The comic strip empath links to ... well, to me, that's a nasty, awful strip. Given that it's posted by empath, who's a guy -- I don't know, I've not seen many women defend that particular comeback script in that article, which I first saw on Reddit.

I get how, in the strip, John's utter passivity, waiting for Sarah to "notice" him, is the problem, as it is for a lot of guys ... the "best friend" routine is one that is the path of least resistance and thus attractive to many scared guys.

But then Sarah basically goes into an utter personality assassination wankfest, where she attacks his earlier preference for indoor pursuits, artistic endeavours, and philosophical discussions and says she wants someone savaged and uncivilized who'll get into arguments with her, and then proceeds to make the argument about how if she were to stay with him, quite literally the human species might become extinct ... that's how much he evidently utterly sucks.

Let me put it this way: without casting aspersions at any woman in this thread, or anyone who has experienced the frustrations of dealing with "John"-like behavior, well, Sarah is a bitch. And I mean that with precisely the same weight that I would call a guy a dick.

As I said, I've not seen the particular script Sarah uses in that cartoon defended by tons of people.

What gets me ... and, God, this has gotten way too long already, so I best shut my trap soon -- what gets me about the situation is, I suppose, just that I think people (and by "people", I'm not limiting it to here and saying "Mefites", I'm talking about the global discussion, on the pulled-out-to-widescreen perspective) are not only letting their tempers get away from them, but they're rejoicing in and viscerally living in the thrill of letting their tempers get away from them. And I don't think that's a useful path.

Neutral, non-aggressive, not-exasperated education is. We've had some people here on Metafilter who got their personalities out of the way and helped other people understand the basic emotional mechanics of the situation, and any growth I've had on this subject I can personally attribute to them, and I thank them for that, very sincerely.

Listen, as a white 30-something male, what's been the biggest mental perspective-breaking-down eye-opener for me as I've grown into my thirties has not been the stuff that's been aggressively oriented towards white males. "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND." "FUCK YOU, OPPRESSOR." Et cetera. Yes, I'm exaggerating.

Somewhat.

But in the before-my-eyes-were-opened WCityMike headspace, as far as I'm concerned, in the space behind my nearsighted eyes, all the various expressions of anger and fury and I'm-so-utterly-fed-up-with-this-bullshit ... well, from my perspective, I'm interpreting this is as an attack, and the attack doesn't do anything to open my mind. It's just engenders a deep-down response of Hey, fuck you, I didn't do anything to you, why the hell are you yelling at me? Even if you're not yelling at me.

What really did the trick ... what was the "magic key"? It was when someone engaged my imagination and my empathy. Imagine that you didn't have this for you. This is my experience. This is what I felt, vividly, moment for moment, in this awful situation. Can you get inside my eyes? Can you imagine what it was like?

And something clicks and I go, Holy shit.

And then, from that point on, on occasion, I'll be in a situation and my brain just randomly runs a little mental subroutine and I re-interpret things around me ... a reminder to put myself in the 'shoes' of the woman across the seat from me, etc.

But the hostility ... the big long monologues where Sarah the Stick Figure completely rips apart and personality-assassinates to an awful degree the friend who she admits has always been there for her, the videogames where you respond to a guy who haltingly tells you he doesn't want to show disrespect to you, but he happens to think you're beautiful by causing a huge cloud of blood to erupt from his midsection ...

... that's not going to be the manner in which guys suddenly experience the moment of realization that starts them thinking outside their own skin and their own experience.

All that does is return an attack for an attack, and although both the strip and the game may give a visceral thrill, its most widespread byproduct is getting the guys you want to enlighten to instead feel that they're being attacked -- which makes them do what? Hunker down, entrench, and close down.
posted by WCityMike at 4:40 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hear what you're saying in the context of metafilter discussions. In the context of the video game? Guys are not the demographic this game is being marketed to. That they will likely feel attacked isn't a big concern in that case, just as concern for how women feel hasn't been a big priority in so many other video games.

What's more, having something that DOESN'T concern itself about the feelings of guys is a lot of what's so refreshing about it. This game doesn't need to be a public education tool any more than GTA does.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:19 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This point has been made before in this thread, but I think it deserves attention again: women, as a group, aren't supposed to take it as a threat when video games, movies, songs, and art represent women being attacked, murdered, raped, or tortured. (Maybe they should, and some theorists have argued they should, but the fact is that most don't.) So why, in this situation, with this game, are so many men taking it as a threat that a video game shows men being murdered?

Is it the context? That seems like the only possible explanation, but I don't see how to parse the context here to make it understandable that the violence in this game is different from the violence in all other games.
posted by meese at 5:29 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


small_ruminant: What's more, having something that DOESN'T concern itself about the feelings of guys is a lot of what's so refreshing about it. This game doesn't need to be a public education tool any more than GTA does.

I get that the game's purpose is not to make guys "get it." I'm just saying that the reason people get so exasperated, angry & fearful is because more guys don't "get it" ... how catcalling makes women truly feel ... and even people who don't do the whole "life of the mind" bit can still get enough of their empathy engaged to cross the necessary boundary when their girlfriends, sisters, mothers, cousins tell them. I guess I want to say to this game's creators ... you want a world where more guys think catcalling like this sucks? Games like this make the world step away from that direction. All it does is make people feel attacked, and when they feel attacked, they re-entrench. So, congratulations, you just moved everyone three steps that way (points to the left) so you could feel better, but what you want is that way (points right).
posted by WCityMike at 5:34 PM on June 8, 2010


This point has been made before in this thread, but I think it deserves attention again: women, as a group, aren't supposed to take it as a threat when video games, movies, songs, and art represent women being attacked, murdered, raped, or tortured. (Maybe they should, and some theorists have argued they should, but the fact is that most don't.) So why, in this situation, with this game, are so many men taking it as a threat that a video game shows men being murdered?

I think it's the fact that the people praising this game are almost universally those who say women should feel threatened by artistic narrative in which women come to harm. See the litany of irate voices talking about Women in Refrigerators in every corner of the internet, or in this very thread complaining about how GTA is a misogynist fantasy.

Either that's okay or this isn't.
posted by kafziel at 7:10 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still, speaking as a guy who is not aggressive, I have to admit, the hostility of this new "nice guys are creepy" meme -- well, I still find it particularly fucked up.

I'm a shy, introverted guy myself, and to me the defining feature of a "Nice Guy" (and the capitalization and the quotes are important here- it's not, or at any rate it certainly shouldn't be, a term for shy, introverted, nice men in general. "Nice Guys" aren't actually nice) to me isn't that they're shy and introverted and lacking in social skills- it's that they're brimming over with ressentiment, that they blame the women they are attracted to for the suffering their own frustrated desires cause them. If they weren't shy and introverted, they'd be a different flavor of misogynist than the "Nice Guy" type, but they'd still be misogynists, and that's the real problem. So, as long as you aren't filled with misogyny and ressentiment, there's no reason to feel yourself as being accused by the feminist critique of "Nice Guys", no matter how shy and unaggressive you are.

That said, I do think that it's possible for the critique to go sour and become motivated by sexist belief as much or more than by feminist belief. "Nice Guys" fail to meet the patriarchal ideal of manhood in many ways (though they often aspire to it), and accordingly it goes less against the societal grain to attack them than it does to go after, say, stereotypical frat boy types. I feel like the anti-"Nice Guy" thing has picked up more of that element as it spreads further outside of strictly feminist circles (i.e. they're bad because they're not Real Manly Men, rather than because they're misogynists), and accordingly it can curdle into an outlook that regards shyness, introversion, and lack of sexual assertiveness in men as being themselves bad and "creepy". That comic was like a crystallization of all this. I'm not the right person to judge what feminism is or should be, for obvious reasons, but I don't see that as being feminism, or anything worthy of the name- in fact, I see it as the very opposite.

And as far as that comic goes, I located the Reddit thread about it, and there were a number of people there who guessed the author of it was a man who identified with John and was filled with self-loathing about it. I think that's pretty likely (I picture the author as being one of those "Nice Guys" who's resolved to be the sort of aggressive asshole he imagines women really want)- whoever wrote it, it's an utterly vile little piece of work on multiple levels. I didn't even get into a number of those levels in my previous comment because I didn't want to go too far off topic, but along with the sheer cruelty of the thing, don't even get me started on the "you have a duty to continue our species" crap. I would urge you not to see it as a feminist statement of any sort- it doesn't deserve to be thought of as one any more than PUA manuals do. Whoever wrote it, the place it's coming from is a deeply fucked-up one.
posted by a louis wain cat at 8:23 PM on June 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


meese: "This point has been made before in this thread, but I think it deserves attention again: women, as a group, aren't supposed to take it as a threat when video games, movies, songs, and art represent women being attacked, murdered, raped, or tortured."

This is precisely why feminists should criticize this game. Women should take it as a threat when art represent women being murdered. The solution is to produce art that doesn't oppress women, not to produce art that is similarly oppressive to men. I know "oppressive" is a strong word, but let me explain...

There are two different types of creeps:

First, there are malicious creeps who want to maintain patriarchy and hate all women. These guys just don't get it and maybe never will.

But there are a whole bunch of shy creeps— I used to be one of them and sort of still am— who are creepy because they are acting out the roles that society has laid out for them. They learned everything they know about women from porn and hollywood films. They do the big romantic gestures and profess their love in monologues like the guy in the comic. They are also being oppressed by the patriarchy. At the end of the day, they wouldn't dream of hurting anybody and are mostly just lonely. I know we think it's obvious, but don't underestimate the power of tons of marketing that says "men are worthless unless they can oppress women."

The shy creeps should be feminists, but most of them just don't know it. The patriarchy hurts them by promoting unrealistic ideas of masculinity. They don't gain much by the patriarchy because they're probably not hyper-masculine guys.

Practically speaking, these distinctions are irrelevant when a woman is being harassed. However, I think we're trying to attack all creepy people when we'd be better off trying to educate them instead.
posted by anonymuk at 9:28 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's the fact that the people praising this game are almost universally those who say women should feel threatened by artistic narrative in which women come to harm.

Should or do?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:48 PM on June 8, 2010


Games like this make the world step away from that direction. All it does is make people feel attacked, and when they feel attacked, they re-entrench.

Women are attacked.



Not computer-game-fantasy attacked.

Not exasperated-words-on-a-website attacked.

Actually attacked.

They were just the women who felt able to talk. Think of all the women who were reading that thread, who did not, could not.

And when they tell many of the men in their lives, like many of the men on the internet, they get attacked all over again.

Their perception of what happened attacked.

Their fear attacked.

Their experience attacked.

Their anger attacked.

The ways they choose to cope attacked.

And when they have the fucking patience and belief in people to reach out and try to explain their experience, and justify when it's heartbreaking that they would have to, and dig out their traumas and re-open their wounds for men to see, over,

and over,

and over again

they maybe get so fucking tired and frustrated and feel for a moment like the world may never change enough for them to be able to feel safe because try as they might it still seems like talking to brick walls

and some of their exasperation, of all the hurt and restriction they had had to live with and carry all their lives, a little of their tiredness and anger leaks out

where's your understanding for their "re-entrench"ment? What about their humanity?

If you really believe, as you said, that you don't really get it - how can you presume to then lecture women on how they should react?

"Nice guy"? This is what a nice guy is like:

I sneezed loudly, and she *screamed*. This blood-curdling, piercing scream that scared the bejeezus out of me. I whirled around. As we both stared at each other, hyperventilating, I asked her if she was okay. She was. I'd startled her. We struck up a conversation. A few months earlier, she'd been mugged. Said she was a little nervous. We talked about it. I tried to be reassuring.

I had barely noticed her presence before that moment. I was on my way home and had my mind on a hot meal. But she had been watching me closely from the moment I turned the corner and approached the stop. To her, I was a potential threat and needed to be watched closely.

These days, I try to be aware of that dynamic when I commute home late from work. No one deserves to be intimidated or made to feel uncomfortable, even inadvertently.


This is what "nice guys" do. They see other people, and do what they can, even go out of their way to make other people's lives a little easier. That's a nice guy. And the world has far, far too few of them.

This may get me plenty of fuck-yous, but: look at kid ichorous - for all his beautiful way with words, which I've always admired - where he ended up was "it's also not fair to deposit it squarely in our court." Macross city flaneur took us on an examination of race and class, and arrived at this: In many, if not most, cases, men who are catcalling are all too aware of their relative powerlessness in the face of the women they harrass. That's why they do it. They feel weak. And the source of that weakness is often economically and racially constructed. And yourself, you went on a defence of the "nice guys", of whom you are one. You even bolded and underlined the "I".

And this is the part that I hope won't get a fuck-you from you, that I am hoping you would understand, that is not an attack, because we all do it, it is such a fundamentally human script - what I am trying to say is that all three of you are defending you, and the groups you are in, the groups you relate to. But there is another group that is suffering, and you are so preoccupied with perceived attacks on yourself or your group that what women have to go through is at best an abstract concept to you. Because if it was not, you would not talk about the pressurised steam of sexual desire, or salesmanship - and you would not dream of telling them how they should educate. Because if macross city flaneur saw women as more than abstract concepts, he would not fear this "horrific fascistic possibility" where "many of the posters have made it seem that a possible "solution" to this problem is that strangers should never speak in public" - because most women would be reasonable human beings who like men and like human connections and would never want such a thing. If what women are going through is more than an abstract concept to kid ichorous, he would not have done the Have I? Am I? Do I? dance, because that hysterical self-absorption and sense of persecution would have been too embarrassing with any awareness of real suffering.
posted by catchingsignals at 12:44 AM on June 9, 2010 [25 favorites]


About the re-entrenchment:

I think we all agree that the game does not have a mission of reeducating catcallers and changing society.

But I think phenomena like this game that appear to be aggressive, unreasonable or over the top may be linked to change. I think no social behaviour so deeply entrenched ever changed because people only asked for it reasonably. Reason is too easily ignored. It is good to see the more aggressive end of the spectrum come out and play and not hide out of a fear for seeming unfair or unreasonable.

And I think that maybe the provocation caused by the game is good - because it angers some people and makes them say "hey, how is this fair?". It is good because it brings a discussion about catcalling onto the table in yet a new way.

People, even people with the same cause, are wildly different. Some will hide, some will try to explain and change the world, and some will laugh while they cause bloody mayhem among offenders in a computer game. This is part of a healthy (in a societal sense) spectrum of reactions.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:04 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I accidentally clicked "Post" - wasn't finished, and was going to edit it again, take out any intemperate or defensive-making language. I've already been through it many times, to try. Did not want to end on that note, but now the tiredness has hit me - I hope it can be seen as not an attack, if possible; I was trying to explain why neither you nor men nor "nice guys" were under attack; but that the group of people who actually are, could really, really do with our support - or at least, not making it harder for them. I just think of all the women who go quiet or are quiet in these threads. I think of what they go away with.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:10 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


catchingsignals, I tried to favorite your post again, but the man held me down. To make up for it I favorited your next one. Really well said; thank you.
posted by Errant at 2:12 AM on June 9, 2010


I found it disheartening in this game that "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you're beautiful" was as equally murderworthy as "I want to blow your back out", though.

I find it insightful. There are situations in which an approach like that (personal, clearly looking to engage) feels potentially much more alarming than an icky but random and impersonal catcall.

Also, simply the cultural expectation for women to be approachable, polite, nurturing and accommodating (and to "smile for [random stranger]!" on command) can get so incredibly exhausting. Seriously dude, you wouldn't believe.
posted by sively at 2:14 AM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]



You are coming dangerously close to blaming the victim here. If women have to be saints 24-7 in order for men to have any sympathy for their dislike of sexual harassment, you are setting the bar at a level where men will never have to show any sympathy, because women are people and people aren't perfect.

You don't need to understand very much about female psychology or experience when it comes to catcalling. Why does it suck? Because women find it sucky to be on the receiving end. That should be enough; even if you don't understand why, that's fine, as long as you don't do it and don't support other guys' right to.

A man who insists that he needs a complete understanding of why a woman doesn't like something before he accepts that it shouldn't happen is a man refusing to respect a woman's word. If you have to pick a side to give the benefit of the doubt to, try making it women once in a while.

Geez, guys. It's just a little shoot-em-up, not a manifesto. You want to know why women don't like being sexually harassed, there's a big world of information already out there.
posted by Kit W at 5:30 AM on June 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oops - somehow I lost the comment I was replying to, which was WCityMike's " you want a world where more guys think catcalling like this sucks? Games like this make the world step away from that direction." Sorry.
posted by Kit W at 5:31 AM on June 9, 2010


Kit W: "Geez, guys. It's just a little shoot-em-up, not a manifesto."

Would you feel the same way if someone released a game about killing women who refused sex? The "it's just a game" argument is irritating because there are so many people beanplating on why this game is good for feminism. Apparently, you're only allowed to beanplate in one direction.
posted by anonymuk at 5:51 AM on June 9, 2010


Would you feel the same way if someone released a game about killing women who refused sex?

I am not Kit W but find your question an intriguing, but ultimately not useful comparison.

To the extent that I take video games seriously (not much) I would feel creeped out about a guy who likes playing your suggested game. Why? Because it indicates that the guy in question has aggression issues against women who refuse sex with him.

"Hey Baby" on the other hand is for women who have aggression issues against men who catcall them.

I do not find the second issue at all creepy - I think most people here understand the motivations behind it. Do you?
The former is creepy (for reasons I don't think I need to explain but will if necessary).

There fore, yes, I would not see the game players in your example to be harmless, nor would I find that shoot-em-up to be harmless. Again, to the extent that I think games can harm your perception of the world (not much).
posted by Omnomnom at 6:01 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The better analogy would be a game where you can kill women who...um...deride you and pull your pants down infront of your mates? Um. Still not awesome but at least kind of funny.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:04 AM on June 9, 2010


Omnomnom: "I do not find the second issue at all creepy - I think most people here understand the motivations behind it. Do you?
The former is creepy (for reasons I don't think I need to explain but will if necessary).
"

Yes, I understand the motivations behind it just as I understand the motivations behind someone who murders her rapist. But there's a leap from "I understand their motivations" to "The motivations are justified, or even correct."

Does a game have to be creepy to warrant discussion?
posted by anonymuk at 6:20 AM on June 9, 2010


The better analogy would be a game where you can kill women who...um...deride you and pull your pants down infront of your mates?

Quoting Margaret Atwood: "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

There is an inherent power imbalance at play. Which is part of why not only finding fitting comparisons but simply just discussing the whole topic is so difficult.
posted by sively at 6:38 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Would you feel the same way if someone released a game about killing women who refused sex?

There probably is one somewhere. You can certainly shoot all the women you like in Grand Theft Auto.

But basically, what Omnomnom said. I wouldn't like it. This is because refusing sex is not the same as sexually harassing someone. One is exercising the right of consent, the other is trampling it. Frankly I think it's a comparison that trivialises sexual harassment.


On a more general point, I wasn't making the 'It's just a game' argument in the sense you interpreted it, I think, though I can see why I should have been clearer. The reason I said 'It's just a little shoot-em-up' was not to imply that a 'little shoot-em-up' can never be creepy or morally reprehensible. It can, same as any other work of art.

The reason I said it was that WCityMike was specifically criticising the game for not helping to spread understanding about why women don't like to be catcalled. I was making the point that it's not the responsibility of everything that touches on the catcalling issue to explain things to men who have difficulty understanding what women are so het up about - and not the responsibility of a recreational game to spread enlightenment in general.

If you want to make the moral judgement that it's too violent I'm perfectly prepared to respect that, as long as you're equally judgemental about every other game in the world that's equally violent. I'm just opposed to making moral judgements against it for not being educational, which is where WCityMike seemed to be tending.
posted by Kit W at 6:50 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does a game have to be creepy to warrant discussion?

No no! Let me try this again.

You were equating two games that in my opinion have a different basis.
One lets you shoot people who disrespect and mistreat you. The other lets you shoot people for saying "no" to you. (I really hope you see the difference. I mean, saying no to sex is not disrespect or mistreatment.)

It is this difference that makes me object to your example game, but not to "Hey Baby".

If you came up with the concept of a game that lets you shoot women who mistreat you, then by all means. It would make me feel a bit weird as a women and I wouldn't play it myself, but I think it would be an okay way for people to blow off steam.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:21 AM on June 9, 2010


Just to be clear, I didn't intend to equate saying no to sex and mistreating a person. Maybe I should have used a less pointed example.

Afroblanco was right when he said that we're mostly agreeing with each other, and I'm willing to concede the point.

I can't believe there are still people who believe feminists promote a world without meaningful relationships between men and women. That stuff is nonsense and maybe an indication of how much progress we still have to make. Anyway, cheers and I owe ya'll a drink for being so patient.
posted by anonymuk at 9:40 AM on June 9, 2010


*clinks glasses*
posted by Kit W at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2010


KitW, when you take a statement, and take each shade of gray in that statement and move it to an extreme, and then respond to that alteration instead of the original, then that's perhaps easier to respond to but it wasn't what was originally said.

What I said was this: if women want to create conversion experiences where guys finally get it and have "eureka" moments such as I did, after which they start routinely thinking about what it would be like in a woman's shoes, then aggressive attacks work against that, while poignant first-person experiences work towards that.

You set up a straw man where what I said became: if women want men to show any sympathy whatsoever towards their being harassed, then they need to continuously and perennially be utterly perfect saints and never show any frustration whatsoever.

What I said was that I know enough to know that I won't get it, I haven't lived the thirty-six years of my life in the social role of a woman, and thus I'm not going to know what it's like, and even my most empathetic musings most likely won't get me there.

You set up a straw man where what I said became: I need a complete and utter understanding before I will accept catcalling should happen.

In each case, the former is what I said and the latter is not. In each case, what you attributed to me and what I said are fairly far apart. Please don't do that, as it really pisses me off. I don't like being told I said phenomenally crappy sentiments when I didn't. Nuance isn't there for hedging, nuance is there because most of the time things really do lie in a shade of gray.

As for the game, I think it's fairly stupid, but there's a difference between criticism and utilitarian feedback. It may serve a useful purpose: blowing off a particular brand of pent-up steam, what have you. If by existing it serves that useful purpose, then, well, great. Doesn't make me feel great, but I'm not its intended audience.

I'm not offering criticism, I'm offering feedback from the perspective of someone who went from being defensive to being empathetic, and I'm telling you what experiences in these discussions re-entrenched me in my old position and what finally worked. I offer this as a utilitarian perspective: technique x is what worked, technique y is what made me feel like someone was reading me the riot act and back away.

And, by the way, technique alter the individual's statements so they're an ideological extreme that in no way represents, and in fact occasionally is conflict with, what the person originally said doesn't do much for the situation, either.
posted by WCityMike at 10:34 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


if women want to create conversion experiences where guys finally get it and have "eureka" moments such as I did, after which they start routinely thinking about what it would be like in a woman's shoes, then aggressive attacks work against that, while poignant first-person experiences work towards that.

I don't disagree with that, and I'm sorry if you felt straw-manned. I'll try to address your points again, if you'll bear with me.

My problem with what you're saying is that if you go into detail about what men need from women in the context of a game that's clearly marketed at women who just want to blow off a little steam, you're not speaking in a vaccum. You're speaking in a context where men very commonly accuse feminists of reverse sexism if they don't hand over precisely 50% of all their spaces to men, even if those spaces are explicitly created to address female-only concerns and there are plenty of other spaces for men to use.

A game like this is a woman-only zone; it's not intended for men. Your point is a reasonable one if the aim is to create mutual understanding, but to use that particular argument in response to this particular game ... well, it comes across as being unwilling to let women have the kind of non-educational, non-enlightened moments of power-fantasy catharsis that men have a whole ton of.

Of course women want men to understand why catcalling is bad. To be honest, we want them to understand it without having to be extremely patient and creative and spend loads of time explaining that we could otherwise be using for more enjoyable purposes, because from a female point of view it really ought to be obvious and failing to grasp it quickly suggests a lack of empathy for women that's not very appealing.

A woman who has to explain to a man why catcalling is a problem is a woman who's being patient and nice to someone whose attitudes to her are probably making her uncomfortable to begin with, which is to say, she's having to hold on to her temper and be the bigger person. It's worth making the effort when the time and place is right, but there's also a time and a place for simply expressing rage - rage people a legitimate emotion as well. It's very hard to sustain moments of patience if you don't also have the space for moments of anger.

It seemed to me that you weren't respecting the time-and-place principle. Because honestly? It's a for-women game that's not supposed to be educational. Nobody was asking you for 'utilitarian feedback', and in a world where men often feel it's their right to tell women how to be good feminists, with the implication that they must know more about it because they're men, it didn't strike me as a very appropriate response.

In this social context, I'm sure you can understand why that's something of a problem. You say you've gone from being defensive to empathetic, but truthfully your 'This isn't helping' argument still struck me as defensive. I applaud any man who tries to come to a better understanding of female experience, so I hope you'll take this post as an attempt to clarify at least this female experience.
posted by Kit W at 11:25 AM on June 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


I would like to favorite Kit W's comment many many times. WCityMike, a thread about a video game that is aimed at women is not a good context for a lecture on how to make men feel more empathetic. There have been other threads for that. Not this one. Thank you.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:59 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how you could say I'm "unwilling to let women have ... power-fantasy catharsis" when, again, it runs counter to explicit statements to the contrary in just this last message. I explicitly said that if by existing it serves the purpose of blowing off a particular brand of pent-up stream, then that's great, and that while it doesn't make me feel great, I'm not its intended audience.

To be candid, I must admit to also being angered by you telling me "nobody was asking you for 'utilitarian feedback'." We are in a message forum talking about this game and the underlying societal problems that caused this game's existence. I don't feel I need to wait to be invited to this discussion. I paid my five dollars same as you.

And if I sound defensive, it's because I am a shy person myself who still has problems approaching women. I'm a hell of a lot more assertive, self-confident, alive and vital than I ever used to be in the past, but the shyness is still part of my makeup as well, and I remember the days when it used to comprise a lot more of my personality. Until I really "woke up" in an earlier thread thanks to some people being open enough to approach things the right way, I would've thought that going up to a woman and saying "I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I think you're beautiful" would've been a wonderful thing to say to a woman that shouldn't cause her any problems whatsoever. This game has a massive cloud of blood erupting from my midsection upon saying that.

Now, let's be clear: I understand, at least insofar as external empathy from someone who hasn't lived in the role can bring about, exactly how that statement is both a burden upon a woman and even potentially represents a possible hostile conflict were someone to "Jekyll-and-Hyde" upon being turned down. So I understand why the "I don't mean to be disrespectful" 'catcall'-er is one of the game's mobs. It's slightly different than the rest, but it's not as different as, once upon a time, I would've liked to have thought.

But then this thread took an additional nasty turn upthread where the thread's original poster posted a link to a cartoon that riffs on exactly how very much nice guys are creepy and are so pathetic as to retard the evolutionary development of the human race, and that got riffed on for a while, too.

So, if the 'this isn't helping' argument had any touch of defensiveness to it, it was more because this thread has had a lot of comments making unkind comments about societal roles that used to be fairly intrinsic to me, and that I've hopefully made some growth away from, but still have remnants of – as well as being about a game in which a computer-generated avatar of said role can easily be murdered in a game environment.

Do I find it wonderful that such a game exists? No. Do I argue for it getting pulled or for its nonexistence? Hell no. It's not aimed towards me. (Of course, I don't think such reciprocal understanding is exhibited that often when the situation is reversed, though.)

Instead of responding with beating-my-chest hostility, I put my two cents in. This game exists because of a particular problem in society. I'm saying, "Well, yeah, if we're trying to get to a point where the majority of the male gender self-police themselves and their compatriots' actions, having games where said guys get blown away takes away from that endpoint, not towards it."

Contrary to what you're suggesting, I don't think this thread thus far has been so limited in its discussion scope that such a comment is inappropriate.
posted by WCityMike at 12:05 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


small_ruminant: a lecture on how to make men feel more empathetic. There have been other threads for that. Not this one. Thank you.

I really don't think saying that I've been adopting a lecturing tone is really that accurate, either.
posted by WCityMike at 12:06 PM on June 9, 2010


Hey Baby! is not a game. Not in the traditional sense. When I played it, it was so obviously bad. It seemed bizarre to think anyone thought they could make money from it. The writing on its website seemed more like sarcasm than anything. And someone mentioned not being able to find more information on "LadyKillas Inc.", the company who made it. Wouldn't that be just a little odd for a company who is trying to make money?

I think these came out yesterday:

An interview with creator Suyin Looui.

And an article on the game from the New York Times, that I think really gets it.

We have had so many threads here debating whether game is art or can be art. This is art - certainly more art than a game, if you define a game as something fun (which I don't myself, but I understand the confusion, given its current common definition).

My experience with it was like hearing someone crying out.

It didn't strike me as carthartic, or intended to be carthartic. If it were, as Burhanistan said, it would have an RPG.

Instead it felt to me to be lonely, and sad. You can shoot them. Or you can choose option 2: say, in the most heartbreakingly sweet voice, "Thank you, have a great day." And hearts bloom. Hearts bloom, as their comments get vicious, as you are hemmed in by more and more harassers, with nowhere to go.

You can shoot them - and they turn into tombstones, their harassing "lines" their epitaph. Is that all they wanted to be? You want to ask them. It is bleak for them too.

You cannot step over their tombstones. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you eventually have no escape. There are no goals, no exits, no way to win.

This is what made Leigh Alexander's friend "fantasize about disfiguring herself so that she never has to worry about this happening".

It is a plea for understanding. For it to stop.
posted by catchingsignals at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


I don't understand how you could say I'm "unwilling to let women have ... power-fantasy catharsis" when, again, it runs counter to explicit statements to the contrary in just this last message.

Because when everything else you say is all about how unhappy you are about the power-fantasy catharsis, a single assertion that you're not unwilling to let it is exist is talking the talk but not walking the walk.


I don't feel I need to wait to be invited to this discussion. I paid my five dollars same as you.

No, but you might want to wait for women to invite you to tell them how to be good feminists if you don't want to annoy them, five dollars or not.


Look: most of what you're saying boils down to saying that you're insecure about yourself and your social skills. I'm sorry to hear that. But that's your problem. It's not the responsibility of a games designer, or a cartoonist, or anyone else, to make sure you never have to hear anything that makes you feel insecure. Your issues are personal to you and your responsibility for getting over, not a relevant point in a discussion about feminism. And letting them dictate so much of your response is acting as if they're an important factor as far as the general public goes. Again, let me remind you we live in a world where men get to prioritise their feelings over women's a lot of the time, and invite you to consider the implications of that.

You keep talking about how people should talk to you if they want a good response. Maybe you should turn that around and think about how you should talk to other people. Because right now, it's not working. You say you want to be empathic instead of defensive? Walk the walk.

This is a thread about a computer game and its feminist implications, not about your feelings.
posted by Kit W at 12:43 PM on June 9, 2010


I'm saying, "Well, yeah, if we're trying to get to a point where the majority of the male gender self-police themselves and their compatriots' actions, having games where said guys get blown away takes away from that endpoint, not towards it."

This is what Kit W was talking about when she referenced "a world where men often feel it's their right to tell women how to be good feminists". It doesn't seem clear to me that you have a good enough handle on the "endpoint" or the movement to be able to determine what does or doesn't help. It seems to me to be a variation on the tone argument, which says basically that more people would take feminists seriously if feminists didn't sound so angry all the time. Well, one, no they probably wouldn't, and two, why shouldn't feminists be angry? This is some serious bullshit we're talking about, it ought to make people mad.

I understand that this game doesn't make you feel good and that that's partly because you are unpleasantly surprised to discover that you can identify with the antagonists. I can respect that discovery, having had it myself and continuing to have it from time to time; it's not a lot of fun. But you want this game to treat its antagonists with some semblance of compassion and understanding, because you want to be treated with compassion and understanding. That's understandable, but it seems a whole lot like making the conversation about your discomfort and how much more effective the game would be if it didn't make you uncomfortable. To be honest, I'm glad it makes you uncomfortable, it should make you uncomfortable, this is, to use the technical term, some serious bullshit. But I also don't especially feel like just talking about your feelings. Your "utilitarian feedback" seems to be that whatever good may be generated by the game, it is canceled out by the ill of making you feel bad. I don't actually see that as an ill, at all.
posted by Errant at 12:52 PM on June 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


And I just realised, it seems that the only way you may be able to get out from being hemmed in is by giving in. And choosing option 2.

Then if you are lucky, they let you through and you are able to walk away, you see that cloud of hearts there, where you gave in, like a crime scene - reminding you of what you had to do. How you had to acquiesce to their expectations and desires, just to get a brief moment of breathing space.

And then it starts again.

The harassment is also often racial. There is so much more to this than a game to shoot men.
posted by catchingsignals at 12:54 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kudos to catchingsignals for actually testing the game instead of theorizing around like the rest of us (well, me).
It actually sounds really interesting.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:03 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because when everything else you say is all about how unhappy you are about the power-fantasy catharsis, a single assertion that you're not unwilling to let it is exist is talking the talk but not walking the walk.

That makes utterly no sense. Someone can be utterly unhappy with something and still be willing to even fight for its right to exist.

No, but you might want to wait for women to invite you to tell them how to be good feminists if you don't want to annoy them, five dollars or not.

If I had been telling women how to be good feminists, I'd be concerned.

most of what you're saying boils down to saying that you're insecure about yourself and your social skills.

No, it doesn't, but that sure makes a handy straw man to use to then segue into a paragraph full of abusive ad hominems.
posted by WCityMike at 1:39 PM on June 9, 2010


If you don't want to feel ad hominemed, WCityMike, talking at length about your personal emotions and problems makes it difficult for the rest of us. You bring 'em up, they're on the table. Talking about them is not an ad hominem, it's responding to what you actually said.

Beyond that, I think you're grasping the point of so little of what I'm saying that I think I'm going to stop arguing with you.
posted by Kit W at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2010


Kit W: If you don't want to feel ad hominemed, WCityMike, talking at length about your personal emotions and problems makes it difficult for the rest of us. You bring 'em up, they're on the table. Talking about them is not an ad hominem, it's responding to what you actually said.

You know, browsing the thread, you're right. I was the one who brought in my own personal history, and instead of bolstering my point, it conceded it. That wasn't my intention. I retract the ad hominem allegation, and apologize for making it.

Beyond that, I think you're grasping the point of so little of what I'm saying that I think I'm going to stop arguing with you.

I just went back and reread each of your comments in this thread. Different parts of what you wrote stood out to me than did before. I think I can see why you're taking offense at what I wrote. It wasn't intended that way, but I think I see why it came across that way.

I meant it to come across in the form of sharing something that once worked for me. It came across as blame. And while I professed to try to put myself inside a woman's shoes when out in the physical world, I think I failed to do so here in a non-physical one. I think I failed to see ... I'm not finding the right phrase here. I want to say something like "how emotionally charged an issue this is for women" or "the emotional significance of this to women", but I think both of those phrases might carry a suggestion along with them that somehow would suggest the reactions have been irrational because of their emotionally significant or charged state, and that's not an implication I believe.

I see where I could've done better here, and I wish I had.
posted by WCityMike at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


That's a classy apology, WCityMike, good on you.
posted by Errant at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2010


I've come to this thread a bit late - I actually found it while checking whether there was a thread on MetaFilter about "Hey Baby". I wrote the blog post that was linked to in the "read" link, and quoted by empath, above, and I seem to be caught in a spiral of comments in response to one guy on Leigh Alexander's blog. I tried to address the "Nice Guy" thing again in a later, and less sarky, post, here - that's a self-link, which I hope is OK, in the context of having been linked to already once in this thread.

The weird thing is, I know that at this point probably very few people are reading the comments on Sexy Videogameland. And I know, also, that the techniques I'm using in that discussion, if discussion is the word we're looking for, are absolutely the things one shouldn't do on the Internet. I am entirely aware that there is no way on Earth that the guy I am arguing with is going to change his position. I also know that I am supposed to be writing an article, and that this is the kind of writing that I don't get paid for. I am hoping. maybe against hope, that other people will read that discussion and take something away from it other than "wow, people really are dicks to each other".

But. But I genuinely hadn't thought before that anyone would suggest that the real problem with women being harassed was that it would make them less receptive to approaches by other men. We got a little way towards that on the Hi. Watcha reading? thread, where the right to carry on striking up conversations with attractive women in public was defended by an appeal to romance, but I don't think anyone actually stood up and said that he knew that women were harassed, he didn't find it acceptable, and he didn't find it acceptable because it might deter women from their duty to be receptive to his approaches and treat them with an open mind, which would deter him, a shy guy, from making the approach in the first place, which would be the real tragedy.

And I just can't understand it. I can't understand how a human being who is able to form thoughts can form that thought. It's like a level of a game, ironically, that I can't crack. 197 comments in, I'm trying to jump onto that platform or dodge that rock, restarting again and again, getting less and less convinced that this level can be beaten. When you were a kid, did you ever get so angry with a seemingly impossible game, and having to restart and slog through ten minutes of a level you have memorised just to die at the same point, that you would beat the ground, or the computer, in time with the bars of the Funeral March from Saul it was playing before giving you a chance to try again? That's the way it feels - as if the discussion of Hey Baby, and by extension the discussion of the harassment of women - is a another game that can't be won.

And one reason it feels like that, along with men demanding that women be ever gentler in their demeanour when they are explaining that it's not nice to have someone shouting threats at them - the Tone Argument - is the sense that, beyond not catcalling women themselves, men have no possible role to play in this situation.

The guys who catcall girls as they're walking down the street don't read blogs or play feminist video games.

and

Case-in-pont -- I, nerdy whiteguy, have really never known anybody who would catcall women as they walk down the street. The catcallers come from a completely different socioeconomic background then I, and almost never find their way into my social circles. I literally have no idea what makes men catcall women. And any conversation that attempts to address this question always devolves into the same inside-baseball gender studies jargonspeak.

It makes it sound like all of this is happening in some distant land, which we can't possibly affect.

I literally have no idea what makes men catcall women.

Is a perfectly fair statement, but I'm not sure it's a relevant one. The immediate question isn't why men do catcall women, but why they can catcall women. Which is maybe because women don't respond negatively because they have seen or been told about the men who catcall, when confronted, becoming rapidly violent, and men don't respond because this is all happening in some other place, walled off from them by barriers of class and race.

It's kind of depressing. Although, on the heartening side, for every comment on Leigh Alexander's blog that says that the real problem here is how horrible the makers of Hey Baby and the women who are playing it are being to men, or saying that they find Leigh Alexander attractive and what's wrong with them saying that, since they are Nice Guys, there is someone, pace afroblanco, who is hearing for the first time and processing the idea that the woman he stopped in the street to offer the information that she is very beautiful and that she has the option, if she wishes, of going on a date with him might be thinking not "that's very validating, and a useful option to have", but "God, I hope this guy doesn't follow me home if I'm not polite enough to him, or call me a whore if I tell him I have a boyfriend. Big smile!"
posted by DNye at 6:59 AM on June 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


(Oops - linked to the "post a comment" page rather than the "comment" page for Sexy videogameland. Correct link here.)
posted by DNye at 7:11 AM on June 11, 2010


DNye -- great writing, point well stated. If you are sincerely asking for help in understanding the other point of view, how it could possibly be held by a somewhat reasonable person, I think we could break that down.

But your post seems more rhetorical and straw-manny, designed to mock at a higher level with a less-than-sincere statement of inability to eff, so I hesitate to take the bait. Feminism discussions here often devolve into sides-taking, and as a centrist and a man I have more than once felt pushed to join the unpopular asshole-boys "side". Not interested. If you truly want to parse these thoughts, memail me or post something here to that effect.
posted by msalt at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, msalt, if you're asking whether I sincerely want to understand the mindset behind a statement from a man that he knew that women were harassed, he didn't find it acceptable, and he didn't find it acceptable because it might deter women from their duty to be receptive to his approaches and treat them with an open mind, which would deter him, a shy guy, from making the approach in the first place, which would be the real tragedy, then I think I already do. I just don't think it's a mindset a person with more than passing experience of the world, a functioning ability to connect cause and effect and any empathy whatever would or should hold. I understand why it's advantageous in certain cases to hold it nonetheless.

More generally, I can certainly understand why a straight man reading a gaming blog would be very reluctant to see their romantic advances as on a continuum with shouts of "suck my cock" delivered from building sites - I mean, not only does it make you feel like a bad guy, but it also links you directly with a lower social and economic class. And I think the culture has a lot to answer for here, by telling men, essentially, that he way to impress women is to be spontaneous, impulsive, not to pay attention to what they say but rather to what you know them to want, and to persevere, persevere, persevere. If you're getting most of your examples of women and men interacting romantically from media, then that's not going to help at all.

As I said, though:

The immediate question isn't why men do catcall women, but why they can catcall women. Which is maybe because women don't respond negatively because they have seen or been told about the men who catcall, when confronted, becoming rapidly violent, and men don't respond because this is all happening in some other place, walled off from them by barriers of class and race.

There's a place for understanding the social and economic reasons why people burgle houses, to draw a parallel, but that role is generally closely related to working out how best to create conditions in which people's burglary of houses is kept to a minimum.
posted by DNye at 5:47 PM on June 11, 2010


And one reason it feels like that, along with men demanding that women be ever gentler in their demeanour when they are explaining that it's not nice to have someone shouting threats at them - the Tone Argument - is the sense that, beyond not catcalling women themselves, men have no possible role to play in this situation.

Very interesting and worthwhile comments, DNye, but if you are saying that men in general should prevent individual men from catcalling, which is a sentiment I'd like to be able to agree with, it would be nice to hear your thoughts about how this could be prevented from devolving into lynchings, as it has so often in the past.
posted by jamjam at 6:54 PM on June 11, 2010


Well, I probably wouldn't use the term "lynching". But I take your point - logically, men who harass women often have some impulse control issues, and so attempting to prevent them from from doing what they want to do - that is, harass women - might lead to a violent reaction, right?

I'm not an expert, but that seems like a very reasonable concern. Generally, I'm not talking about wading in and throwing punches at harassers.

That leaves quite a few other circumstances where it seems that men can help other men to understand the parameters. An obvious one is challenging friends who harass or catcall women, either directly or if they recount it later. Another is reporting harassment when it can be reported. Something I've noticed recently is that the same process that makes young women in summer clothes magnetic to the attention of some construction workers also makes men pretty much invisible. Admittedly, I kind of lost that advantage the lat time I passed a building site where women were being catcalled by shouting at the catcallers, but in general it seems like, whereas the women being harassed probably want to get out of there as quickly as possible, men have the leisure to photograph the offenders, note down the contracting agency's number, things of that nature.

There are some strategies for dealing with street harassment here, which seem pretty sound. I think that site makes a very worthwhile point - men use other men's feedback to set their boundaries around how men behave. The first way for a man to fight harassment is not to harass. The second is not to endorse harassment - which might mean, if it seems appropriate and the risk of escalation is limited, intervening between a harasser and a harassee, or telling a FOAF in the pub that the anecdote they have told makes them look not like a carefree romantic or a victim of frigid women's malice, but like a sexual harasser.

That's not likely to lead to violence, although it may well lead to considerable social awkwardness. Would that be a place to start?
posted by DNye at 8:54 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


DNye, I truly do apologize if I'm making a mistake here, but are you referring to me?
posted by WCityMike at 9:02 PM on June 11, 2010


if you are saying that men in general should prevent individual men from catcalling, which is a sentiment I'd like to be able to agree with, it would be nice to hear your thoughts about how this could be prevented from devolving

Some debate and stories about intervening, from the previous Schrodinger's threads: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

This isn't all of them, but these are the links I have easily to hand.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:12 AM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thank you, cybercoitus interruptus - that's very useful.

WCityMike - that's a tricky question to answer, because I've said a lot of things in all sorts of places recently about street harassment - as I say, I've become fascinated, possibly in an unhealthy way, with the arguments, and also viscerally affected by what they say about my gender and the world we want to live in. I'm also cautious of turning this into a discussion about individual men's hurt feelings. However, I would like to respond to you in good faith.

So: when I talked about the tone argument, yes, I was thinking that your actions in this thread were examples of the tone argument. A very common formulation of the tone argument is "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar", and that is almost exactly mirrored by:

Listen, as a white 30-something male, what's been the biggest mental perspective-breaking-down eye-opener for me as I've grown into my thirties has not been the stuff that's been aggressively oriented towards white males. "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND." "FUCK YOU, OPPRESSOR." Et cetera. Yes, I'm exaggerating.

I think it's worth reading this alongside something you said later, to Kit W:

In each case, the former is what I said and the latter is not. In each case, what you attributed to me and what I said are fairly far apart. Please don't do that, as it really pisses me off. I don't like being told I said phenomenally crappy sentiments when I didn't. Nuance isn't there for hedging, nuance is there because most of the time things really do lie in a shade of gray.

That is, you are representing statements made by people who have talked to you in parodically exaggerated terms, but you get really pissed off if you feel that people are parodically exaggerating what you have said.

That's actually pretty much textbook - you're effectively telling women that unless they communicate with you (and by extension men) in the right tone, as defined by you, then you're going to hear it as "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND." "FUCK YOU, OPPRESSOR." Women have a duty to tamp down anger they might have when they talk to you about the ways the behaviour of (white) men upsets them, because otherwise it will just bounce off the shields you have set up to deflect anger at (white) men. Instead, they have to use poignant first-person person experiences - which I think has the unfortunate side-effect that, in this version of the tone argument, women have to dredge up and relate experiences that may well have been profoundly upsetting for them as a condition of entry. It's like a kind of tribute. I think many women on MeFi have very bravely shared their experiences of harassment (and for that matter rape), but I'm deeply uncomfortable about the idea that you have to do that to be listened to.

So, yes. I think I probably was thinking about you - by no means exclusively, but certainly as an instantiation of a common behaviour - regarding the tone argument. For that matter, there are probably things I had in mind from this discussion, along with various other discussions that have come out of Hey Baby, realting to Nice Guys.

Personally, I don't think your analysis of the problem with lowercased "nice guys" is accurate in terms of Nice Guy syndrome. The term as it is generally applied in Nice Guy syndrome is not about guys who have trouble controlling their firehose (as it were), or guys who don't know how attractive they are or are not, but about guys who think that women go out with "jerks" (ea sunt not Nice Guys, and specifically not this Nice Guy) because they are stupid, or self-destructive, or blinded by shallow, ephemeral concerns like muscles or fast cars - that is that women's decision-making abilities are wanting, and that it is appropriate therefore not to respect their choices and to think less of them for not making the "right" choice.

Tangent - this is the same impulse, in the culture, that has heroes in romantic comedies pursue the object of their affection to the exclusion of the happiness or stability of the object of their affection's life - often they are already in a relationship, which needs to be destroyed in order for the romantic lead to get together with his ideal woman. The way that this is often gotten around is by revealing that, actually, the impeding guy is a monster. I'm thinking, say, of The Wedding Singer, which is a fantasy about knowing that the guy your crush object is going to marry is a total jerk and having the power to reveal that incontrovertibly to her. In a similar vein, there's a British comedy called Run, Fat Boy, Run, in which Simon Pegg has broken up with the mother of his son. She is now with Hank Azaria, who is a little pompous but whose main fault seems to be that he is a better partner and father than Pegg's character was. So, in the last ten minutes the writers have to make him a total dick, by first having him cheat in the race he and Pegg are competing in and then, having pulled up injured as a result of that attempt to cheat, bellow abuse at his future stepson while his mother, the woman we know to be Pegg's ideal woman, watches in horror. This entirely visible heel turn - the guy we know on a structural level to be an asshole suddenly revealing himself to be an asshole, thus allowing the hero to win by disqualification - is the stuff, I think, of Nice Guy wish fulfilment.

(Poignant first-hand experience - when I was a teenager, I was at a party with a girl I had developed a fearsome crush on. I had not mentioned this crush - I had just hung out around her, hoping she would notice my many good qualities. When it looked like she was going to get together with another fellow at this party, whose good qualities I felt were less good than mine, I took her aside in the guise of being a good friend making sure she knew what she was doing, was of sound mind and so on. During the course of that conversation, I confessed my feelings. Seeing the utter horror on her face, I quickly backtracked, but the damage was done. She pretty much stopped hanging out with me after that, despite my best efforts to insert myself into social situations, and eventually I was told, not unkindly but quite firmly and at one remove, that we weren't going to hang out in the future. At the time I felt very badly treated by that - all I had done, after all, had been to be true to my heart's urgings, just like the movies tell one to - but, looking back, what I had actually done was build a friendship on false pretences, and then brought that crashing down in a last-ditch shot at a romantic relationship which she not only did not want but had probably never contemplated, and made her process not just a romantic overture but also the possibility that our entire friendship up to that point had been a friend-shaped hide using which I could get close enough to loose Cupid's dart, while she was also trying to make a connection of her own.)

I'd agree with you that the cartoon empath linked to is not an accurate portrayal of the problems of the Nice Guy (for me, the problem isn't that Nice Guys have been playing RPGs instead of hiking, or even that they offer a relationship without peaks and troughs, but that they feel that their niceness deserves to be rewarded with physical and emotional affection, and they feel justified in being angry with women for not giving them that reward). Sarah doesn't need to give a list of reasons like that - I'm kind of weirded out by that last panel, and it feels like a man imagining the horrible things a woman is thinking while letting him down gently. Possibly a better comic strip to illustrate the Nice Guy syndrome as I think it is generally understood is this one- it's certainly the kind of Nice Guy I've been in the past.

Incidentally, the link to that strip came from this extremely useful post on Shapely Prose, which was also the source of the Schrodinger's Rapist thread.

Sorry, wandered a bit off piste there.

All of that aside, if you mean "are you referring to me when you say:

I don't think anyone actually stood up and said that he knew that women were harassed, he didn't find it acceptable, and he didn't find it acceptable because it might deter women from their duty to be receptive to his approaches and treat them with an open mind, which would deter him, a shy guy, from making the approach in the first place, which would be the real tragedy?"

Then, no, I wasn't. I was referring to... let's see. This comment from "Chris" on Sexy Videogameland:

This post saddens me. While I understand the problem and accept it's reality, I question the position your response leaves young men (shy ones especially). Approach a girl, gather your confidence, try a bad line, and the shy/socially awkward guy is suddenly a misognyst? All because some jerk 3 streets down yelled "smile for me"?!

While I understand that the extreme acts tarnish the small, and despite reassurence women can tell the difference, statements like this (excuse the paraphrase);
"We can tell the difference. Might we accidentally tar you with the same brush. Yes, Sorry",
directly state the opposite. As does my severe doubt that all people are as perceptive.


Or this from an anonymous poster in the same thread:

The thing is, I think you just made a whole lot of rather shy guys even more insecure when approaching(or even thinking about approaching) women than they already are.


And also this comment from tehloki:

Wow, as a socially awkward "shy nice guy" this thread sure does make me feel like I'm the worst person on earth! Thanks
posted by DNye at 8:07 AM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Post-post - what do you know? There's a webcomic specifically about teenage Nice Guy me!
posted by DNye at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


DNye: kind of as I suspected, your query wasn't sincere. I don't even know why I'm commenting, because it's unlikely to end well, but a couple of data points (based on many previous discussions, esp. the one's Cybercoitus Interruptus so helpfully added):

-- it has been often stated that men don't appreciate how often catcalling happens, because it rarely happens when men are present. Which matches my experience. but it means that men intervening isn't likely to be the big solution here.

-- I completely agree that the friends of the catcaller are the ones who need to intervene, not stranger guys (which then becomes a macho confrontation.) I would go further and say that catcalling isn't really aimed at the women, ultimately; it's about showing off or "being funny" for other guys, it's tribal (or in some cases, it's predation). That's why most catcallers (other than predators) obviously don't have any real interest in sex.

- Please consider this in all sincerity -- your very aggressive, even macho tone, is a problematic answer to sexism, and resembles somewhat the kind of feminist guy who rushes in to rescue the ladies.

-- the thing you asked about, you frame it derisively, but it can also be seem this way; one of the negative effects of catcalling is that it ruins the possibility of spontaneous meetings between men and women, which otherwise could be fun in some cases, whether romantic or just friendly. Unless I'm reading it wrong, the (female) author of the essay "Schroedinger's Rapist" is making this point among others, trying to educate men on how to do it right and understand the difference.
posted by msalt at 12:21 PM on June 12, 2010


Man, msalt. I don't really know how to respond to that. I think you're totally clear in your mind that what's important here is that people should be sincere in their desire to get your knowledge. Which is... well. Other perspectives are always interesting. To your points:

1) I think you've misunderstood. Catcalling doesn't tend to happen _to women who are accompanied or protected by men_. That's quite different from "catcalling rarely happens when men are present". I mean, you contradict yourself in your next data point (opinion point, perhaps more accurately), when you say that catcalling isn't aimed at women, but is about showing off to other guys. However. If you want to opt out of engaging with the harassment of women because it's not "the big solution", go for it. It may nonetheless be a helpful thing for men to think about their responses to harassment, and I think that might be a thing you could profitably do.

2) You're saying "macho" a lot in these points, I think perhaps to... shame people who think of themselves as feminists but still engage with harassers? Because they shouldn't be macho? Might be worth taking a look at that in your choice of words. Anyway - essentially, you're excluding a number of the stories people have told, and Cybercoitus interruptus linked to, in which they have been cornered by aggressive men, often without other men around to provide approval.

That said, if it is the case that harassers harass in order to gain the approval of other men, then your first point is untrue, and as men we should be thinking about our response to men harassing women in order to gain our approval or show off. Which is, weirdly, exactly what it says in the link I posted to strategies for dealing with street harassment. Which means, I think, that you... are disagreeing with yourself? And agreeing with me?

I'm not sure what your distinction of catcallers and predators is - I assume it's meaningful to you, but you haven't explained it. Possibly you have specialised experience which you can bring to the question of the psychology of harassers, in which case I'm sure it would be very interesting to hear it, but I think, again, that understanding why men harass women is only really interesting insofar as it helps to reduce the harassment of men by women. The experts on this agree that other men have an important role to play - I'm pretty sure most would not diminish the importance of women to the point of being merely a catalyst for male bonding, but certainly many harassers depend on male approval to keep harassing, and that's why men shouldn't be complicit in the harassment of women. There are some hints and tips on bystander intervention without escalation here - Brian Martin's article, from which much of that advice is taken has that odd flavour of English peculiar to Australia, but has some useful advice.

3) Another "macho". I'm not hugely worried about being called a feminist guy. I'm not a rescuer, but I don't have a particular problem with taking advice from women on how they would like men to behave around harassment and try to apply that. If you don't want to get involved, that's fine, but it might not be due to a commendable lack of machismo. I'm sure you have your own answers to sexism, and I'd be delighted to hear more about them, but I suspect you won't be willing to share them unless assured of the "sincerity" of those listening - a variation of the tone argument, again - and I can't vouch for Metafilter as a whole's sincerity.

4) Yes, absolutely. Misogyny hurts both men and women. I think that's pretty much Feminism 101, right? While women have to worry about being harassed or threatened on the street, or for that matter about being assaulted or raped, it's going to be harder for men to be able to make connections with women they have met on the street, because those women have to worry that they might be about to harass or attack them. That's pretty obvious.

I think Phaedra Starling was primarily concerned with helping men not to harass women, and to explain to men what behaviour is harassing, with providing a guide to picking up women a relatively distant objective - that being why she is Phaedra Starling, feminist and activist, and not Phaedra Starling, pick-up-artist's friend - but sure. There are benefits. If men stopped harassing women, women would be able to stop worrying about being harassed, and then men would not have to worry about having to deal with women's caution about being harassed.

Nonetheless, if somebody thinks that the important thing here is their chance of pulling women being adversely affected by harassment, and not the harassment of women itself, then that somebody has a ludicrous sense of entitlement, or possibly a terrifying indifference to the feelings of women. That's a sincere belief. However, if suggesting that not behaving like a harasser will help men to make progress with women during random encounters is the only way to reach those men who have that sense of entitlement, or who are indifferent to the feelings of women beyond their willingness to become romantically involved with them, then, hey, horses for courses, right?
posted by DNye at 4:53 PM on June 12, 2010


Ahem. Unless we have entered a paralllel universe, that should have been the harassment of women by men, above.
posted by DNye at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2010


Yes sexism hurts men too (as do all things inhumane), but I think the whole "poor nice guys" and "soon people will NOT BE ALLOWED to communicate with strangers" are derails and not legitimate arguments against sexism. Because what do the guys who raise these arguments suggest? Invariably, as in this thread (and the comment thread DNye linked to), they suggest that there is something wrong with women's perception and the ways women choose to handle harassers.
posted by Danila at 6:40 PM on June 12, 2010


Oh, and I HATE those movies where some romancer wins the heart of a lovely lass by proving to her (naive? ignorant? stupid?) self that the person she is about to marry is really evil.
posted by Danila at 6:42 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


DNye: Maybe we do agree, I can't be sure as you speak very indirectly and sarcastically. I'm also not clear whether you've been through a lot of the long discussions on this issue here. One dynamic that keeps coming up here is men saying, "I don't see a lot of catcalling." And women replying, "That's because it happens less when women are accompanied by men." So urging Mefite men to intervene is not going to have much effect. You seem to think the men of Metafilter are idly standing by during harassment. Why?

The friends of harassers are a different story. They don't need to "intervene" in the way you describe, because they are the audience in the first place. (ie in the archetypal construction site example, the other construction workers.) I think we agree that they should step up and say "Don't be such an asshole", or whatever. Do you understand the distinction? (Hint; they're not on Metafilter, or at least they don't speak up in these threads.)

Most catcallers seem to be looking for the approval of their friends; spoken disapproval by those friends should be enough to discourage it. The one guy here who fessed to catcalling described it as teenage stupidity for the approval of friends; apparently he outgrew it.

Your last two paragraphs are full of implication and snarky suggestion that anyone who disagrees with you must be a harasser, a wuss, or emotionally stunted at best. Wow. You seem to miss the point that women might actually like to have conversations with men they meet in public. Maybe even initiate them. Not Phaedra Starling "pick-up artists friend" -- WTF? -- but Phaedra Starling, a person who might like to be able to strike up a casual conversation without fear of confrontation and weirdness.

It's not all about men. And it's not all about men intervening to stop other men, or men on Metafilter challenging other men to intervene to stop other men. That's rescuing.
posted by msalt at 1:30 AM on June 13, 2010


MEN! AND MEN ON METAFILTER!!

STOP INTERVENING TO STOP OTHER MEN!!!

STOP CHALLENGING MEN TO STOP OTHER MEN!!!

YOUR *RESCUING* IS UNDERMINING THE CAUSE!!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:10 AM on June 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wowser. MSalt, I think we do agree to great extent - although when I say "agree" I mean that you're unintentionally instantiating a lot of things I've said. "Support" may be closer.

I have been through the long discussions here - in fact, I contributed to "Hi. Whatcha Reading". In fact in fact, you actually appear to have paraphrased something I said in "Hi. Watcha reading?" I said:

However, I do have a thought about why sometimes it might feel to men that too much noise is being made about sexual harassment and the fear women experience (and thus why it might seem like the real issue here is whether men are not getting the props they deserve for not, on average, having raped people) - because that noise is not generally made around men.

I was talking about this with a female friend. She told me about a friend of hers, who realised one day that she needed to go to the shops to get lunch. However, she also realised, if she went out wearing the clothes she was wearing, she would - absolutely would, no meaningful statistical likelihood of not - be whistled at and catcalled, and those catcalls would not, pace Bulgaroktonos, feel like socially acceptable invitations to a consensual sexual act. We're not talking about Princess Leia's slave costume here, to be clear - we're talking about normal clothes worn by women in normal English weather.

So, she had the options of running the gauntlet, covering up and hoping for the best, or taking a male partner with her. Because men do not generally sexually harass women who are accompanied by their male partners. And, as a result of that, any time a man has seen a female friend of theirs being harassed or yelled at, that incident is a black swan.


I confess that I wasn't expecting that to be turned into an argument for ignoring the harassment of women, thus:

it has been often stated that men don't appreciate how often catcalling happens, because it rarely happens when men are present. Which matches my experience. but it means that men intervening isn't likely to be the big solution here.

And what you are doing here, now, is something which I have mentioned in this thread. I mentioned that one reason men are highly resistant to the idea that the shy, socially awkward pick-up on the street is often experienced by women as on a continuum with the shout of "nice tits!" from a building site is that it breaks down the barriers of class and race - it suggests that this shy, socially awkward middle class white guy is behaving like a builder:

The immediate question isn't why men do catcall women, but why they can catcall women. Which is maybe because women don't respond negatively because they have seen or been told about the men who catcall, when confronted, becoming rapidly violent, and men don't respond because this is all happening in some other place, walled off from them by barriers of class and race.


And here you are, saying:

The friends of harassers are a different story. They don't need to "intervene" in the way you describe, because they are the audience in the first place. (ie in the archetypal construction site example, the other construction workers.) I think we agree that they should step up and say "Don't be such an asshole", or whatever. Do you understand the distinction? (Hint; they're not on Metafilter, or at least they don't speak up in these threads.)

(Incidentally, and I'll come onto this later, that Do you understand the distinction? (Hint: they're not on Metafilter etc would have been seized on by you as insincerity, implication and snarky suggestion if I had said it to you. Glass houses, dude.)

You are working here to take random approaches to women in the street not by working-class men out of the set of things that are harassment. If you believe that, then, yes, it's probably a fair bet that not many parents and friends of road crews read MetaFilter (although it's hard to know whether this is 100% accurate). However, I don't believe that. I believe that interactions outside the working classes - in offices, in the street but involving middle-class men - can be harassment, and that men can take certain simple actions to combat the impression that this harassment is a natural process in the relationship of men and women. And also that it is very clear that people who either harass themselves (using that set of things) or want to enable harassment do read Metafilter, because we have people saying things like

I really suggest you follow those links on strategies for dealing with harassment. It's not recommending you throw yourself into building sites with fists whirling. It is suggesting that you don't join in, make it clear if a woman says she has been harassed that this is not behaviour that is tolerated, offer assistance to women who have been harassed. I'm not sure why you are so intent on not engaging with street harassment, and on discouraging other people from doing so.

So, this is tricky. I'm afraid that I do think you are a wuss, or a term like it. Not for your refusal to engage with harassers and your desire to convince other men not to do so - I don't really know what the baseline reasoning of that is yet, and quite possibly never will. I do think, however, that you keep trying to control the terms of the discussion by throwing out both preemptive (But your post seems more rhetorical and straw-manny, designed to mock at a higher level with a less-than-sincere statement of inability to eff, so I hesitate to take the bait.) and post factum (Your last two paragraphs are full of implication and snarky suggestion) attempts to force people to be nice to you as a device, so that you can conflate their disagreeing with you with their arguing in bad faith or being insincere, or being snarky. That's a common Internet device, and not a very useful one - you're basically keeping one finger on the ejector seat button at all times, so you can bail out leaving an electronic paper trail of accusations that the other viewpoint was arguing in bad faith.

So, to answer your implication re: my implication.

1) I don't think anyone who disagrees with me must be a harasser. It's kind of weird that you think that. I do believe that is in the best interests of some people to locate harassment a long way away from what they want to do, or what they want other men to be able to do.

2) Although I think that you, personally, are being cowardly (I don't like the term "wussy"), I think that you are being cowardly in the way you approach discussion rather than because you disagree with me, and I do not believe that everyone who disagrees with me is a coward.

3) I do not believe that anyone who disagrees with me must be emotionally stunted. I do believe that you keep trying to make this argument about my emotions (sincerity, snark, "macho"), rather than the actual topic under discussion. That's a poor way to discuss things, because it's always got one hand on the escape hatch release - "you are being too emotional therefore there is no point discussing this with you" is of course also a common way to dismiss women who are communicating anger at having been harassed while talking about harassment - see the discussion of the tone argument, above.

I also find that your arguments are self-contradictory in places, and also seem to come from a sort of parallel universe. For example, when you say:

They don't need to "intervene" in the way you describe, because they are the audience in the first place. (ie in the archetypal construction site example, the other construction workers.) I think we agree that they should step up and say "Don't be such an asshole", or whatever. Do you understand the distinction?

I find that odd, because one of the things that is specifically said in the strategies for intervening in harassment, under "bystander intervention" is:

Suppose you are with men who are harassing women (or anyone else): Suppose you see a man/men harassing women (or anyone else):

I'm not sure what kind of intervention I'm describing here - kung fu? Or calling the "considerate builders" line which is placed on building sites specifically for reporting antisocial behaviour by builders and reporting antisocial behaviour by builders? I think that's the only intervention I've specifically recommended, although that's also in the strategies for dealing with harassment document - one can, of course, do it with other professions who do not considerately provide a number specifically for it, but it takes more effort.

Regarding MetaFilter - well, if I start from the perspective that harassment is not a good thing, and that the set of things which are or can be harassment contains these objects, and that there are these responses to harassment which can be taken, then clearly, quo vide the conversation we are having here, MetaFilter as a whole does not universally subscribe to those views. As it happens, I'm talking about this because I posted here, and I posted here because empath linked to my blog and I was surprised and delighted to be linked on MetaFilter. Now, my blog post most certainly was snarky, although it was also intended to be humorous. Its point was not that nobody should ever approach anyone else on the street, and if I were you I would accuse you of bad faith for suggesting that it was - I was also not serious when I suggested that Galactus the Planet Eater would come and destroy Earth if shy, socially awkward guys had sex, for reference.

My point was that if you are a shy, socially awkward guy who is concerned primarily with the impact of harassment on your confidence when approaching women on the street, or the fear that women who have been harassed may be unfairly negatively disposed when considering your proposition on the street, then you should probably not be talking to strange women on the street, because you have no empathy and will therefore probably not be able to read cues or tell if they are feeling harassed. If you are a shy, socially awkward guy looking to meet girls generally, you might want to try Internet dating or being introduced to female friends of your friends as a less high-pressure, high-risk way to meet them, since the chances of you getting a positive response from a woman you have accosted in the street are absolutely minimal, especially if you are stammering or bright red, and you are only likely to upset yourself.

However. I'm not sure if you'll still be reading at this point, since it is getting a bit long and it is certainly at the point where you could be forgiven for pulling the insincerity ripcord, but I do think your last paragraph is quite instructive.

You seem to miss the point that women might actually like to have conversations with men they meet in public. Maybe even initiate them. Not Phaedra Starling "pick-up artists friend" -- WTF? -- but Phaedra Starling, a person who might like to be able to strike up a casual conversation without fear of confrontation and weirdness.

I don't I, or anyone else, missed the point that women might like to have conversations with men they meet in public, because it is so blindingly cocking obvious as not to be worth mentioning, again, this is interactions between genders 101.

So, my first question, again, might be "did you read the post I made in this universe? I said that harassment hurts men and women - because of the experience of harassment (and for that matter the risk of assault), women are often wary of approaches by men, and men have a mathematically minute chance of getting a date from stopping a woman in the street and trying to get one, even if they are a great guy and these two people would, in fact, be perfect for one another. However, as I have said already, if your response to that fact is "well, that woman shouldn't be letting her experience of having been harassed in the past blind her to that guy's excellent qualities", then you are missing the point - especially if you have been arguing hard so far for men not to intervene in episodes where women are being harassed. You are also missing the point of Phaedra Starling's piece, to the extent that I am now wondering if you have read the one she wrote in this universe, again.

Phaedra Starling may indeed be a person who might like to be able to strike up a casual conversation [sc. with a man she does not know in a public place] without fear of confrontation and weirdness. Why wouldn't she be? Who would prefer to live in a world where casual conversation is such a minefield? She might not want to do it as often as you think (Helen Huntingdon, in the responses to the original Shapely Prose post, says that she strikes up a conversation with strange men whenever a strange man seems interesting enough to make her want to, which is a bout once every four years, and if men want her to do it more often then they should be more interesting), but it sounds like a very rational think to want.

I actually have no idea where you got the idea that the point of opposing harassment was to prevent women from initiating conversation with men. If a woman initiates a conversation with you, then green light go! She has looked at you, determined that she wants to talk to you, taken into account the risk that you might turn weird and concluded that she wants to talk to you. I have no idea why you think Phaedra Starling is being forced not to talk to men on the Subway by opponents of street harassment. There is no statement to that effect in this thread, the "Hi. Whatcha Reading" thread, the original thread on Shapely Prose, or quite possibly in this universe, until now. I'd suggest that you look at this post by Paultopia, and the responses from women beneath it, which point out that women do understand that it sucks for women and for men to live in these circumstances, and that women can understand the pain of romantic rejection because they get rejected too (it sort of amazes me that this needs to be said, but whatevs. We're in a place of trust, here). However, the pain of men feeling romantic rejection or not feeling attractive, is not greater than the pain of women being raped, or being afraid of being raped, or being threatened with rape, or being made to feel afraid by the advances of someone who has never been told, or not so far taken on board, that what they are doing cmes across as a potential threat of rape.

But is what Phaedra Starling really wants to give men handy hints on how to start conversations with women (which is what you originally said, and the basis of my gloss "the pick-up artists' friend", which confused you)? Let's take a look:

The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?


Huh. It looks to me, Msalt, like what Phaedra Starling mainly wants out of interactions with unknown men is not to be raped, I think in common with a lot of women. She also wants, in common with a lot of women, not to get into the very stressful and unpleasant state of being afraid that somebody is going to rape her, or attempt to rape her, or for that matter start a conversation which descends into threats of rape or violence. It's possible that you haven't encountered any account of such a happening, despite having read the threads on MetaFilter, so here's one from Leigh Alexander's blog, from "Jennifer Ruth":


Look - I've been harassed lots of times. Most of the time it is just a comment shouted across the street. It's embarrassing and I hate it but it doesn't go any further. But then, sometimes...sometimes there are men who just won't stop. Once I ignored a cat caller and he started following me and it was like a switch had flipped inside him. He was saying all sorts of violent things to me and threatening me with rape. It was terrifying! I got away from him but here is the point. How do I distinguish which dudes on the street are "just" cat calling and which ones are going to flip out and become threatening? The answer is, I can't. And frankly, I am inclined to treat any cat caller like a potential threat. If men don't like being treated like a potential threat then maybe you should take it out on the dudes that do this shit rather than the women who are trying to keep safe. And maybe you can find new ways to approach women that involve stopping them in the street when they're on their way to work/a movie/food shopping/whatever.


I suspect that the last sentence should read "that don't involve stopping them in the street", but you can understand why that might have been a paragraph Jennifer Ruth wanted to read back. too often.

So, to recap: if a woman strikes up a conversation with you on the street, congratulations! You've been identified as not a potential threat, and maybe even a potential romantic interest. If you strike up a conversation with a woman on the street (or in a place she can't immediately leave, like her workplace or the bus or subway), you can't self-certify as not a threat, or not a potential harasser. You can do some things to make yourself look like less of a potential threat (for example, not wear a T-shirt with a rape joke on it) - that is, reduce your personal risk profile - or make women feel less threatened generally - by attempting to lower the incidence of harassment, both by not indulging in harassing behaviours yourself towards women and by discouraging others from indulging in harassing behaviours towards women.

That's a long game, sure, but when you think what great strides African-Americans and women have made towards equal rights through their own tireless work and the support of their allies, it gives one hope for the cause of dudes who want to be able to approach women on the street without having to get past the cultural legacy of the harassment of women before they can be confident of being judged on their inherent potential as a romantic partner.

That last paragraph, incidentally, actually was snarky, but probably not as snarky as you think. If you want to hit the escape button though, it's a golden opportunity.
posted by DNye at 6:19 AM on June 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And... please delete , because we have people saying things like, which referred to a quote by Bulgaroktonos which was then deleted as no longer so relevant when I changed the paragraph preceding. Insert "think" where it is needed in I don't I, or anyone else, and substitute "thing" for "think" in "a very rational think". "Come" is misspelled "cme", and there are some minor punctuation bloopers. Long post, sorry.
posted by DNye at 6:33 AM on June 13, 2010


Incidentally - I note that I failed to answer this question:

You seem to think the men of Metafilter are idly standing by during harassment. Why?

Which, well. I think people in general have a duty to take sensible actions, which do not carry considerable risk of escalation, both to protect and support victims of harassment and discourage harassment. I think that people in general often do not do that, not least because they don't know what the right thing to do is, or they are frozen in the way that one is often frozen if there is an outburst of violence near you, if you are not used to violence. Case in point: some years ago, I saw a man (wearing a suit, probably not going to work on a building site) finding his way blocked by a West Indian woman as he attempted to leave a train. Rather than navigate around her, or ask her to move, he kicked her and called her a "black bitch". It was a pretty feeble kick, and she was twice his size, but nonetheless. By the time anyone had processed that this thing had happened, myself included, he had disembarked. Which is a shame, because I think it might have been useful for him to have been made aware by others that this kind of behaviour was likely to get him into trouble.

Am I saying that I think standing by is a unique characteristic of the men of Metafilter? No. I think it's weird that you should think that, and it feels a weeny bit like you're working hard to take this personally. I do think that men have a role in combatting harassment, and if men have a sense of what approaches the experts recommend that they take then they will be better equipped and more confident in doing so. Like CPR or the Heimlich.

However, it's also clear that we (you and I, rather than Metafilter) think "harassment" means different things in this context, and also that we (again, you and I) have different ideas about what I am proposing people do in response to harassment. I think that my idea of what I'm proposing is probably closer to what I am proposing, but I accept that I could be wrong about that.
posted by DNye at 7:19 AM on June 13, 2010


Ah. And, irony of ironies, I should have written:

I suspect that the last sentence should read "that don't involve stopping them in the street", but you can understand why that might not have been a paragraph Jennifer Ruth wanted to read back too often.

Rather than.

I suspect that the last sentence should read "that don't involve stopping them in the street", but you can understand why that might have been a paragraph Jennifer Ruth wanted to read back. too often.
posted by DNye at 7:38 AM on June 13, 2010


That is the longest post I have ever seen on Metafilter. Honestly, it's too rambly for me to effectively respond to, and I'm not interested in a pissing match. When you say it feels a weeny bit like you're working hard to take this personally AND
I think that you, personally, are being cowardly in the same comment? That's not a discussion I see as worth continuing.
posted by msalt at 1:05 AM on June 14, 2010



That sound there? Ejector seat button being pressed.

I am sorry I attempted to address each of your claims and statements fully, comprehensively and honestly, Msalt. I did not realise that taking you and your arguments seriously would offend you, or tax your patience. I will try to be pithier in the future when you misread wildly, contradict yourself, invent terminologies and insult people who note that you have done so.

Meanwhile, if I can find a way to be more sympathetic to your desire to exempt middle class men from the ranks of those who harass and those who should take action against harassment, I shall of course take it.
posted by DNye at 7:13 AM on June 14, 2010


Hey, pal? This is a public discussion forum, in a topic about women. Doesn't seem like the place for two guys to duke it out at great length, or really for anyone to get so personal. Feel free to MeMail me.
posted by msalt at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2010


Well. This puts me in a difficult situation, doesn't it? I mean, being lectured on etiquette by a person who has just posted a ruder version of "tl;dr" is already pretty awkward. The threatening, company-of-men intimacy of "pal" is rather… macho? Testosterony, let's say. Boy talk.

And I'm not totally sold on the "topic about women" argument - first because it's a little too much like "not in front of the ladies" for comfort, and because this is not a topic about women, but a topic a video game about the sexual harassment of women. That's quite a difference. I certainly want women's voices to be heard. It's kind of weird that you would think etc. On the other hand, I don't think that you get to be the arbiter of what women would like in this thread. Contrariwise, a robust rebuttal of arguments seeking to underplay the incidence of street harassment and the importance of resisting it might be quite a nice thing for there to be on this thread. Of course, if I am asked to desist by a moderator or indeed by someone who is not personally invested in me being silent, that would be a different matter. Bit of a relief, in many ways.

I'm hardly enjoying this, you know. I'm just marking myself out as the guy who spends time on the Internet talking to people who are not going to change their views or, most likely, follow the argument. But nonetheless, following the MetaFilter posting suggestions, I am aiming to talk about the ideas rather than the person, and the ideas you are promulgating, although often contradictory or inconsistent, seem to me to be very unhealthy ones. It is these ideas with which there may be duking. Thus:

1. You keep talking as if the only kind of harassment women experience is catcalling, in defiance of many of the accounts provided here and elsewhere by women. This is at least somewhat justified by the fact that we are talking about a video game in which what is happening to the protagonist is something like catcalling, although it also involves street harassment, nice-guy comments and other forms of unsolicited verbal interaction by men. However, outside the limits of this game, in the place where people who are on Metafilter live, there are clearly (to me) other forms.

2. However, you then argue that the only people who catcall women are the sort of people who wouldn't read Metafilter.

3. You then argue that this group of catcallers almost never catcall when other men are present:

it has been often stated that men don't appreciate how often catcalling happens, because it rarely happens when men are present.

And later behave as if this statement is the same statement as:

One dynamic that keeps coming up here is men saying, "I don't see a lot of catcalling." And women replying, "That's because it happens less when women are accompanied by men."

Which it is not.

However, your position appears actually to be neither of those, in fact, but that men never catcall when other men who are not their peers are around and, since catcalling is the only form of harassment, therefore men never harass women when men who are not their peers (their peers also being the sort of people who wouldn't read Metafilter) are present - again, in defiance of many of the experiences of women related around these parts.

The friends of harassers are a different story. They don't need to "intervene" in the way you describe [I don't think you have a clear sense of what "the way I describe" is, here, incidentally, because I don't, but that's a relatively minor issue], because they are the audience in the first place. (ie in the archetypal construction site example, the other construction workers.) I think we agree that they should step up and say "Don't be such an asshole", or whatever. Do you understand the distinction? (Hint; they're not on Metafilter, or at least they don't speak up in these threads.)

(Incidentally, the tone there - as if you were competing in a Star Trek trivia contest rather than talking about women not being able to walk the streets without feeling and being harassed? Alienating.)

To paraphrase the post you tl;dred, you are working here to take random approaches to women in the street which are not catcalls delivered with the intent to impress one's not-Metafilterish peers out of the set of things that are sexual harassment, along with pretty much everything else outside an undefined set of (presumably private and unwitnessed) "predator" activities. I believe that public interactions outside public catcalling - in offices, in the street but not involving catcalls, in food courts - can be unwanted and more or less harassing, and that bystanding men and women, while being mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, can take certain simple actions to combat the impression that these forms of behaviour are a natural process in the relationship of men and women.

4. Oh, and you also explain that catcalling is not about sex, barring an undefined set of predators, although your evidence base for this is not clear.

I would go further and say that catcalling isn't really aimed at the women, ultimately; it's about showing off or "being funny" for other guys, it's tribal (or in some cases, it's predation). That's why most catcallers (other than predators) obviously don't have any real interest in sex.

That's not particularly relevant. It's just an odd conclusion to draw. (Especially since, by your formulation, you have presumably never witnessed catcalling).

5. You then draw the conclusion that, since nobody on Metafilter could possibly be catcalling (because the kind of people who catcall do not use Metafilter) and nobody on Metafilter could ever be near somebody who catcalls (because nobody catcalls in the presence of men who are not their peers, their peers being the kind of people who do not use Metafilter), and there is no other form of harassment other than catcalling, it is purposeless to talk on Metafilter about how men might respond to women being harassed in their vicinity. In fact, for some reason the idea of discussing this seems to you to impugn male MeFites' commitment to fighting harassment, even though they can't fight harassment because they will never see it, for the reasons stated above:

So urging Mefite men to intervene is not going to have much effect. You seem to think the men of Metafilter are idly standing by during harassment. Why?

So. You may not mean to - I'm pretty sure your argument has kind of gotten away from you at this point - but what you are saying is that no form of harassment apart from public catcalling and (presumably private) predation exist, that public catcalling is in any case not sexual, that only the kind of men who don't read Metafilter (e.g construction worker types) harass women and only other men of the kind who don't read Metafilter (e.g more construction worker types) ever witness harassment, and that since the kind of men who use Metafilter will therefore never commit or witness any act of harassment, there is no point in them spending any time thinking about how to deal with any incidences of harassment which take place near them, much less how to monitor their own behaviour. However, if they by some miracle ever do see any harassment, they should not intervene, because if they do they will inevitably engineer a macho confrontation (bad) and be the kind of feminist guy who rushes in to rescue the ladies (also bad), and they certainly should not make any effort to research intervention techniques, presumably because this might encourage them to intervene.

Of course, this ignores a bunch of other things, including that the advice on reaction to experiencing or being adjacent to harassment which I linked to is very careful to stress ways to avoid violent confrontation, and is aimed at both women and men. But I think the key points in your argument are the futility of the men of the Metafilter-reading classes thinking about how to engage with harassment due to the impossibility of harassment by or around the men of the Metafilter-reading classes.

Oh, and for an encore, (6) Phaedra Starling really just wants to meet dudes. Which at this point seems… an oddly logical conclusion, so far are we down the rabbit hole.

These ideas are disturbing to me, and I don't think MeMail is really an appropriate response, because I don't want to be alone in a metaphorical room with them. I would love to hear from more women in this thread, but, you know, we've already heard from a lot of women, in this thread and elsewhere, and if I, as a woman, encountered someone so apparently intent on picking and choosing their accounts, I might be reluctant to head once more into the breach myself.

Speaking of, actually, a wise person has pointed out to me that at this point I am not debunking a commonly-held fallacy, but taking apart the foundations of a wildly idiosyncratic view of the world, and in doing so wasting time that might be spent otherwise addressing broader points. Not that I don't think that some of your apprehensions are not relatively commonplace - in particular the intersection of class and harasser status - but the way they combine here is unlikely to occur often. So, yes. Whereas previously I was genuinely trying to point somewhere, this is just kicking your sandcastle and wandering off. Possibly a more coherent sandcastle structure will emerge, possibly others will take some hints on sandcastle building from the whole process, but there is very little possibility that you will interpret the damage to your sandcastle as structural, so I should probably find something healthier to do.
posted by DNye at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2010


Let's all go to summer camp. Oorah!
posted by armage at 3:22 AM on June 15, 2010


I see that the New York Tmes article on the game was linked here; I was going to mention it if someone else hadn't.

Because the most telling thing from it was that the (male) reviewer had an epiphany at the end -- that no matter what else you did during the game, no matter what approach you took, it didn't matter, because the game kept going, and guys still kept coming and making the same damn comments, and for him that was kind of where the penny dropped about the real life experience of women - the relentlessness of it all, and how grinding it must be. And you could tell he was sort of Getting Something He Hadn't Before, and it was interesting seeing that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 AM on June 15, 2010 [12 favorites]


Saw the MeTa and read this whole thread. Interesting discussion. I would argue that actually a lot of men don't realize how annoying it is to be catcalled and raising awareness of the issue can actually help. Most people, men or women, don't want to ruin someone else's day if they can help it. Obviously there is a hard core of people who do but I would imagine that if most men knew how women felt catcalling could be reduced but 50%, 80%, whatever.
Ah, yes. Clearly, the best way to deal with sexual harassment is to convert it into some good, old-fashioned backs-to-the-wall-lads homophobia.
Since when is not wanting to be prison raped 'homophobia'? This whole side discussion is just bizarre. It's somehow a moral failing for a straight man to be afraid of being ass-raped by another dude? WTF?
I hear you tehloki, but don't pay attention to the heavily favorited comments calling us "creepy", or "misogynistic assholes", this thread is about something else. Alien zombie prison rape, maybe? I kind of lost track.
Do you guys run around catcalling women? If not then what does this have to do with you? If so, then in fact, you are not 'nice'.

Anyway, the thing about "Nice guys" is that they are, in fact Not Nice. A nice person does things that they think will make other people feel happy. These guys guilt trip women and stress them out in order to get into bed with them. How is that "Nice"? It's obviously not.
posted by delmoi at 6:44 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi's right; in fact, one of the great things I learned about "nice" was from Into the Woods (really fun show for kids and adults); where Red sings "nice is different from good."

As for cat-calling, some of my messenger friends used to do that sort of thing on occasion. My typical response would be to ask them if that has ever "worked" in any sense of the word. While not perfect, this strategy often curbed the catcalling.
posted by Mister_A at 6:56 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, referring to yourself as a 'nice guy' in such a way that you are really doing so as an attempt to point out to women that the other guy isn't nice, and gee also aren't you so overlooked and misunderstood, is manipulative and creepy and not, in fact, nice.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:57 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another article on catcalling with interesting comments from women of all races. Also includes some tips on ways to handle the harassment. I kinda like the idea of handing out flyers.
posted by Danila at 9:41 PM on June 15, 2010


Song about street harassment, featuring ukulele.
posted by Danila at 9:47 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some other examples of flyers, cards and posters. (from the Stop Street Harassment site linked nearer the top of this thread - a good clearing house for resources).
posted by DNye at 1:47 AM on June 16, 2010


Fixed link
posted by DNye at 1:47 AM on June 16, 2010


covering up and hoping for the best

A woman does not have to be half naked to be harrased on the street. She only need to be female. The male who cat-calls has resorted to a primitive method of punishing (humiliating) any woman who has the audacity to walk without any (gasp) male chaperone.

That is, exist freely in the world.
posted by marimeko at 6:01 PM on June 16, 2010


A woman does not have to be half naked to be harrased on the street. She only need to be female.

*nods* When I was in college I got catcalls when I was walking to and from some of my classes. Dressed in a baggy sweatsuit and zero makeup, during a time in my life when my hairstyle was best described as "I was still finding myself".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2010


Tangent: Girls suck at video games - the game of life for women, by Stephanie Mercier, over at Vimeo.
posted by harriet vane at 10:58 PM on June 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


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